Douglas has become the Island’s first local authority to be recognised for the quality of its green spaces after it won two Green Flag awards.
The Green Flag award scheme is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces across the British Isles, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, awarded by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.
Douglas Borough Council applied for Noble’s Park and the Marine Gardens on Loch Promenade to be considered for the scheme in February this year. Judges from the UK and Holland visited the sites in May then after a rigorous assessment process, awarded green flag status to both.
Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP said: ‘To be recognised at the very first attempt for the excellence of our parks and gardens is fantastic news. Receiving not one but two Green Flags is testament to the investment the Council is continuing to make in its green open spaces.
'As with the Council’s own exacting approach to its parks and gardens the Green Flag scheme looks at much more than the mere aesthetics and appeal of a site. It takes into account environmental, management and future planning policies along with community involvement.
‘At a time when many local authorities are cutting back on what they see as aspirational but non-essential amenities Douglas recognises the importance of quality parks and gardens in its overall town centre regeneration strategy. Well maintained parks and gardens not only benefit the local community and have a positive impact on people’s quality of life but they also have the power to contribute to a town’s economy. Well maintained green spaces are one indicator of how well a town is doing, so can help attract new business and investment and generate increased visitor numbers. Additionally, for existing businesses in Douglas, not least those allied to the hospitality industry, the town’s Green Flag status can serve as a unique selling point for their promotional and marketing activities.’
Regeneration and Community Advisory Committee lead member Councillor Stephen Pitts said: ‘Receiving these two Green Flag awards is wonderful news and deserved recognition for the commitment and hard work of our parks and gardens team. We have long been of the opinion that our green spaces were exceptional and had much to offer, but to have this confirmed by an international body of judges is extremely rewarding. This is an award for all the dedicated people across the entire Council operation who have contributed to making Douglas an attractive town and, in so doing, helped promote the Isle of Man to an international audience.’
Councillor Christian went on to say that the judges were particularly impressed that Douglas was a local authority with its own nursery, Ballaughton. ‘Once again our commitment to sustainability and investment in the nursery, where all the plants for our parks and gardens are grown, has paid dividends.
‘Receiving these two Green Flags is cause for celebration. The awards, however, are made annually, and winners must apply each year to renew their status. I hope that by winning this award Douglas can serve as a beacon to other local authorities and I’m confident that in 2014 we’ll not only have raised standards even further but we’ll also be raising even more Green Flags.’
About the Green Flag scheme:
Green Flag Award applications are judged against eight criteria addressed through management plans and site inspections and scrutinised through independent verification.
A welcoming place
When approaching or entering the park/green space, the overall impression for any member of the community - regardless of the purpose of their visit - should be positive and inviting. There should be:
• Good and safe access;
• Good signage to and in the park/green space;
• Equal access for all members of the community.
Healthy, safe and secure
The park/green space must be a healthy, safe and secure place for all members of the community to use. Any issues that have come to light must be addressed in the management plan and implemented on the ground. New issues that arise must be addressed promptly and appropriately.
• Equipment and facilities must be safe to use;
• It must be a secure place for all members of
the community to use or traverse;
• Dog fouling must be adequately addressed;
• Health and safety policies should be in place,
in practice and regularly reviewed;
• Toilets, drinking water, first aid, public
telephones and emergency equipment where
relevant (e.g. life belts by water) should be
available in or near the park/green space, and
be clearly signposted.
Clean and well maintained
For aesthetic as well as health and safety reasons, issues of cleanliness and maintenance must be adequately addressed, in particular:
• Litter and other waste management;
• The maintenance of grounds, buildings,
equipment and other features;
• A policy on litter, vandalism and maintenance
should be in place, in practice and regularly
Methods used in maintaining the park/green space and its facilities should be environmentally sound, relying on best practices available according to current knowledge. Management should be aware of the range of techniques available to them, and demonstrate that informed choices have been made and are regularly reviewed. Parks/green spaces should:
• Have an environmental policy or charter and
management strategy in place, which is in
practice and regularly reviewed;
• Minimise and justify pesticide use;
• Eliminate horticultural peat use;
• Recycle waste plant material;
• Demonstrate high horticultural and
• Have energy conservation, pollution reduction,
waste recycling, and resource conservation
Conservation and heritage
Particular attention should be paid to the conservation and appropriate management of:
• Natural features, wildlife and fauna;
• Buildings and structural features;
• These should serve their function well without
placing undue pressure on the surrounding
The park/green space management should actively pursue the involvement of members of the community who represent as many park/green space user groups as possible. The following should be demonstrated:
• Knowledge of user community and levels and
patterns of use;
• Evidence of community involvement in
management and/or developments and results
• Appropriate levels of provision of recreational
facilities for all sectors of the community.
• A marketing strategy should be in place, which
is in practice and regularly reviewed;
• There should be good provision of information
to users, e.g. about management strategies,
activities, features, ways to get involved;
• The park/green space should be promoted as
a community resource.
• A management plan or strategy should be in
• This should clearly and adequately address all
of the above criteria and any other relevant
aspects of the park/green space’s
• The plan must be actively implemented and
• A financially sound management of the
park/green space must also be demonstrated.