Wirral parks staff and volunteers' dedication brings best-ever standards and clutch of awards (From Wirral Globe)
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Wirral parks staff and volunteers' dedication brings best-ever standards and clutch of awards
Wirral’s gardeners may not be exactly singing in the rain – but they have developed a new tolerance to the wet in their quest to maintain high quality of the district’s parks and open spaces.
Talks between the local authority and trade unions resulted in a 12-month pilot scheme that changed working practices for all council gardeners, supervisors and deputy area managers.
New arrangements included agreement for staff to work in the rain and wet conditions to minimise loss of productivity; restricting time taken for lunch breaks to half-an-hour; flexible working and Friday afternoon working to prepare parks and other areas for increased use over the weekend.
Their dedication resulted last year in the best standards of quality ever achieved in Wirral and brought a clutch of awards.
The district received a national quality award and 14 Green Flag Awards – recognition that parks were well-maintained, well-managed and had to appropriate facilities for local communities.
Uniquely Wirral had a national first – the only island in the country - Hilbre – to hold a Green Flag.
In a report to Wednesday night’s meeting of Wirral Council sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee, councillors will be told the awards could not have been achieved without a partnership arrangement with Friends groups, volunteers and other community organisations supporting local parks teams to achieved required standards.
And volunteers are going to be even more in demand this year as the council reduces the amount of money it spends on maintenance of parks and open spaces.
The report acknowledged their “invaluable contribution” to park life through local events and activities, task days and contribution to management plans.
Three new Friends groups have been set up in the past 12 months, making a total of 46 such groups across Wirral.
Wirral’s Green Flag parks are Ashton Park, Wirral Country Park, Thornton Hough Village Green, Birkenhead Park, Coronation Gardens, Brotherton Park and Dibbinsdale Local Nature Reserve, Eastham Country Park, Royden Park, Hilbre Island Local Nature Reserve, Vale Park, The Arno, Bidston Hill, North Wirral Country Park and Meols Park.
Tam O’Shanter Urban Farm earned a Green Flag Community Award that recognises high quality green spaces managed by voluntary and community groups; and Birkenhead Park retained it Green Heritage status in addition to its Green Flag award.