Douglas Borough Council has won four Green Flag awards.
For the second year in succession Green Flags have been awarded to the marine (sunken) gardens on Douglas Promenade and Noble’s Park and, new for 2014, a further two: one for Douglas golf course, the other for a scheme at Douglas Head featuring a large-scale floral representation visible from Douglas harbour of a poppy created out of 4000 geraniums and thousands of poppy seeds to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
One verse*, in English and in Manx Gaelic, of Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, written in September 1914, forms part of the display, one of the Council’s contributions to Island of Culture 2014.
The scheme also includes resurfaced paths, a new viewing platform and picnic area.
To date Douglas is the sole local authority in the Isle of Man to have been awarded Green Flags, winning its first two in 2013 at the first attempt.
Council Leader Councillor David Christian said: ‘Another triumph for Douglas. Winning two awards at our first attempt last year was fantastic but our parks section along with the green-keeping and Douglas Head teams are never ones to rest on their laurels. They were inspired by that success to aim even higher and their outstanding efforts under head of parks Dave Hewes, head green keeper Murray Jones and foreman Keith Jones at Douglas Head have now been rewarded with two more Green Flags.
‘A Green Flag, though, is not for life. Winners must apply each year to renew their status, so it’s a double celebration to learn that the sunken gardens and Noble’s Park have retained Green Flag status for 2014, swelling our tally of flags to four.
‘The Council recognises the important contribution green spaces make to a town and to people’s lives. Well maintained public parks and gardens are integral to our investment in town centre regeneration and serve as an indicator that Douglas is a town facing its economic challenges with determination and is resolutely “open for business”.
‘Many local authorities are choosing to scale back on providing amenities they deem non-essential. Douglas is a far more forward-thinking authority. It is firmly of the opinion that quality green open spaces are not only important for our health and wellbeing, but can also be an educational resource and have the power to make a very real difference to the local economy, attracting visitors, investment and new business.’
Chair of the regeneration and community advisory committee Councillor Stephen Pitts said: ‘Dave Hewes, Murray Jones and Keith Jones and their respective teams are to be congratulated on winning these four Green Flag awards. The teams work tirelessly year round to ensure these spaces are maintained in first-class condition, so I’m delighted their efforts have been recognised by an independent body that operates to equally exacting standards.
‘Douglas golf course has long been a highly prized leisure facility and the setting for many a championship tournament. The revitalised Douglas Head site will now similarly provide another exceptional community amenity of which the people of Douglas and the Isle of Man can be proud.’
The Green Flag award scheme, which takes into account environmental, management and future planning policies along with community involvement, 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.
* ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.’