VOLUNTEER “friends” of Wirral’s parks have been given a civic salute for helping the peninsula to achieve a clean sweep of Green Flag awards.

All 14 of Wirral’s open spaces entered for the Green Flag awards received the prestigious tag when the winners were announced recently.

Wirral’s mayor Cllr Gerry Ellis threw a civic reception this week in celebration of the achievement. He had words of praise for local authority staff and officers. But he singled out volunteer Friends Groups for special acclaim.

He said: “Gaining these awards year on year relies on the involvement of community representatives in the management and development of the parks, it couldn’t be done without them. The staff, volunteers and Friends Groups that represent Wirral’s winning parks have played a key role in achieving this success. It is fantastic that Wirral has so many Green Flag parks.”

The Green Flag scheme – managed in the UK by a consortium comprising Keep Britain Tidy, The Conservation Volunteers and Green Space - is a sign to visitors that a park is well-maintained, well-managed and has excellent facilities.

This year, two Wirral parks earned additional awards from the organisers: Tam O’Shanter Urban Farm received a Green Flag Community Award, which recognises high quality green spaces in England and Wales that are managed by voluntary and community groups, while Birkenhead Park retained its Green Heritage status in addition to its Green Flag.

Cllr Ellis told his guests that in Hilbre Island Nature Reserve, Wirral was home to the only island in the United Kingdom to boast a Green Flag.

Wirral parks that retained their Green Flags status this year were Ashton Park, West Kirby, Wirral Country Park, Thornton Hough Village Green, Birkenhead Park, Coronation Gardens, West Kirby, Brotherton Park and Dibbinsdale Local Nature Reserve, Bromborough, Eastham Country Park, Royden Park, Frankby, Hilbre Island Local Nature Reserve, Vale Park, New Brighton, The Arno Gardens, Oxton and Bidston Hill.

The two new recipients of the Green Flag in Wirral this year were the North Wirral Coastal Park and Meols Park.

Key criteria involved in the issue of the award relate, among other things, to health, safety and security; maintenance of equipment, buildings and landscapes, litter, cleanliness and vandalism; environmental sustainability; conservation of heritage and nature and community involvement.