When you’re the second smallest borough in the country with a densely packed population you really have to do everything you can to make the very best use of the limited green space you have.
Naturally, I tend to think our parks and open spaces are fantastic places and real community assets. They can be beautiful to the eye while at the same time providing a place to exercise, walk your dog, play with the children or just take time to sit and read a book. As well as this they provide a vital habitat for all sorts of insects, reptiles, small mammals and birds.
I should declare a bit of an interest here. Before I took on the hot seat of leading the Council I spent many years as Cabinet Member with responsibility for parks. So it’s fair to say they are close to my heart. I suppose this is why I was so pleased to learn that all ten of the parks and open spaces we entered into the annual Green Flag Awards have won the right to continue to fly the flag for the borough.
The Green Flag Award was first launched in 1996 to recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country. We first won the right to fly one in 2001 when Holland Park led the way. Since then more and more of our parks and open spaces have impressed the judges. Now our list of green flags is an impressive one Holland Park, Kensington Memorial Park, St Luke’s, Gunnersbury Cemetery, Cremorne, Westfield, Little Wormwood Scrubs, Avondale, Tavistock Gardens and Emslie Horniman Pleasance.
There will be something for most people to enjoy in all of these parks. From the exciting water playground for a good splash about with the children on a hot day in Kensington Memorial Park to the peace and quiet of St Luke’s Gardens, perfect for a break from the hustle and bustle of the King’s Road. If it’s a larger more open area you are after then pop up to Little Wormwood Scrubs. It’s a Site of Nature Conservation Importance with grassland supporting grasshoppers and butterflies. The scrubland from which it gets its name consists of bramble and hawthorn and its woodland provides an abundance of nesting and feeding areas for birds and mammals.
Any parents looking for activities that are both fun and educational should have a look at what’s on offer over the summer at the Ecology Centre in Holland Park. It runs a scheme of environmental-themed activities for five to ten-year-olds (under- eights must be accompanied by an adult). These activities take place in the centre itself and the wooded wildlife area. So if you think your children would like mini-beast hunting, nature trails and animal-themed craft sessions look up what’s happening this week.
I do hope you find time to enjoy what’s on offer in our parks and agree with me how splendid they are. You can find your local one here. A lot of hard work goes into making sure they look so good so I’d like to thank all the staff who toil hard all year round for their efforts to make sure the green flags keep flying around the borough.