GREEN Flags are flying proudly at Devon County Council’s two country parks, the Grand Western Canal Country Park, Tiverton and Stover Country Park, near Newton Abbot, which are among a record breaking 2,127 green spaces receiving the Green Flag Award this Silver Jubilee year.

Stover is celebrating its 18th consecutive year of gaining the award, and it’s the 13th year that the Grand Western Canal has attained the international quality mark for parks and green spaces.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, said: “Congratulations to the Country Parks at Stover and the Grand Western Canal for achieving the highest standards for parks once again.

“Making the grade for environmental standards and visitor facilities is no mean feat and maintaining that for so many years takes an extraordinary effort. ?“We have seen during the coronavirus pandemic over the past 18 months that these parks play a vital role in helping people maintain their health and wellbeing.

“It’s been lovely to see lots of new visitors enjoying the parks during the pandemic, and the staff have really stepped up to give a great experience to all the visitors.

“Thanks to the staff and volunteers for their commitment and dedication that has made it possible to retain this prestigious award and provide people with green space that everyone can enjoy.”

The Grand Western Canal Country Park has had another busy year as local people made use of the park during the covid pandemic.

Following the lifting of restrictions, the increase in visitor numbers was sustained as staycations boosted domestic tourism.

The Park was also pleased to welcome back the horse-drawn barge in late June after 17 months of not operating during the pandemic.

Councillor Ray Radford, Chair of the Grand Western Canal Joint Advisory Committee, Mid Devon District Councillor for Halberton and County Councillor for Willand and Uffculme, said: “This is fantastic news yet again. The Canal Manager, his support crew and all the volunteers have made this award possible again.

“The Grand Western Canal has been such an asset to our local community during the difficult covid times, and our canal has been widely used.

“As well as attracting visitors to the canal, it has brought with it revenue for the local economy.

“The green flag scheme sets a high standard and at the same time provides facilities to create healthy lives.”

Councillor Colin Slade, County Councillor for Tiverton East and Vice Chair of the Grand Western Canal Joint Advisory Committee, said: “I am delighted that the Grand Western Canal has repeated its Green Flag award success, 13 is indeed lucky for some!

“My congratulations to Canal manager Mark Baker and his team of rangers and volunteers in maintaining this standard of excellence, especially in such difficult times. I personally view the Canal Country Park as the jewel in Tiverton’s crown.”

Green Flag Award Scheme Manager Paul Todd said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making Stover and the Grand Western Canal Country Parks worthy of a Green Flag Award.

“To meet the requirements demanded by the scheme is testament to the hard work of the staff and volunteers who do so much to ensure they have high standards of horticulture, safety and environmental management and are places that support people to live healthy lives.”

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity “Keep Britain Tidy” under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

In celebration of this year’s announcement, Green Flag Award asked buildings and monuments around the UK to #GoGreenForParks to show appreciation for the spaces that mean so much to people