Newham parks hailed as ‘lifelines’ during pandemic receive international recognition
- Credit: © 2020 Andrew Baker
Parks and green spaces across Newham have been a “lifeline” for many during the coronavirus pandemic - and several have received international recognition.
Parks in West Ham, Stratford, East Ham and the Royal Docks are among those to have retained the Green Flag Award, which means they are recognised internationally as high-quality and well-managed spaces.
Grade II-listed West Ham Park in Upton Lane - the largest in Newham, owned and maintained by the City of London Corporation since 1874 – also received a Green Heritage Award in recogntion of its historic features and conservation work.
The corporation’s West Ham Park committee chairman Oliver Sells QC said: “The park is treasured by its communities and international visitors alike.
“I thank our staff and volunteers for the excellent job they do in maintaining the park to such a high standard, keeping it accessible for all and giving people the opportunity to explore the natural world.”
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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP), which offers 560 acres of parklands and waterways, retained the green flag award for the seventh consecutive year.
Access to outdoor space for exercise, leisure and relaxation was particularly important during lockdown, with more than 70 per cent of visitors in a recent QEOP survey saying parks had a positive important on their physical and mental health.
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QEOP executive director of park operations and venues Mark Camley said: “In the last few months the park has proved itself as a lifeline for many east Londoners, with the beautiful parklands providing safe, open space for everyone in the area.
“Retaining the award for the seventh consecutive year is an honour, and is a testament to the hard working staff and volunteers who have kept the park open during such difficult times.”
In East Ham, a green flag was awarded to Plashet Park, in Plashet Grove for the fifth year running.
The flag was raised in the park by cabinet member for environment, highways and sustainable transport James Asser, East Ham North ward councillor Zuber Gulamussen and the council parks team in a small, socially-distanced celebration.
Cllr James Asser said: “The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has truly highlighted just how valuable our parks and green spaces are to our communities.
“They have always played a vital role as a place for people to come together, enjoy themselves and keep active, and this award celebrates that.
“I would like to thank all those people who have helped to keep it beautiful, safe and tidy.”
Thames Barrier Park in the Royal Docks received the award for the third year in a row.
Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz said the riverside park was one of the most beautiful green spaces in London.
“Through attention and care throughout the year, the ongoing prominence of the Thames Barrier Park in this exemplary national award scheme is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff team there,” she said.
“Our residents, especially, have benefitted from all the park offers, particularly during Covid-19 lockdown when access to good quality open space was so important for the health and wellbeing of our diverse communities.
“Now that we are in Tier 2 restrictions in London, access to the Thames Barrier Park will become vital.”
The Green Flag Award scheme, which is run by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, sets the benchmark standard for the management of parks and green spaces in the UK and around the world.
Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.
“All the research shows that spending time in good-quality green space can improve people’s health and wellbeing and that is why it is important that they are managed to the recognised standard of the Green Flag Award.
“This is now something that millions more recognise after the challenges of the past six months.
“All those involved in the Green Flag Award should be congratulated on their achievement.”
More than 2,000 sites across the country were awarded a green flag in 2020.