Pic: Councillor Tonia Craig, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Policy (pictured right), joined Kim Peters, Country Parks Visitor Services Manager, to 'raise the flag' and celebrate the excellent result
Lakeside Country Park in Eastleigh has, for the first time, been voted one of the best in the UK, joining Itchen Valley Country Park as a winner of the coveted Green Flag award.
The popular open space, to the south of Eastleigh town centre, will be flying the Keep Britain Tidy charity’s Green Flag - a sign to visitors that the park is well maintained and run to the highest possible standards, with excellent facilities.
Its sister location, Itchen Valley Country Park, is now into its second decade as a Green Flag award winner. Both are operated by Eastleigh Borough Council.
Created on restored gravel works, Lakeside Country Park is 22 hectares of lakes, wet meadow and woodland. Offering walks, picnic sites and guided trails, the park provides habitat to a diverse array of wildlife - including deer, foxes and species of bat - and is popular with local anglers. It is also home to the Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway. Since 2016 improvements to the park have include the opening of an award-winning community building for users of the lakes and wider park, and the creation of new trails, designed in partnership with the community.
Itchen Valley Country Park offers a wealth of waymarked trails and recently opened a new café, indoor play area and revamped outdoor play trail. Picnic tables and barbecue sites make it a perfect destination for a family day out in a woodland and meadow setting.
The Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Policy, Councillor Tonia Craig said: “The past 18 months have demonstrated how important having well-managed green spaces on our doorstep is to the wellbeing of residents. We‘re very proud that the Borough’s two Council-operated parks have been voted among the best in the country and we’re very grateful to Keep Britain Tidy for this additional recognition. It is a tribute to the hard work of our talented teams who maintain the parks to such a high standard.”
Research carried out by YouGov for Keep Britain Tidy over the summer shows just how important parks are to the British public. It reveals that having access to a quality park or green space helped improve people’s mental health with almost six in ten (59%) saying they felt less stressed when using the park and 55% saying they felt more positive in general. The survey also showed that more than half of people (53%) visit a park or green space at least once a week and more than nine in ten (93%) think that parks and green spaces are important to their local community.
Green Flag Award Scheme Manager Paul Todd said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making Eastleigh Borough Council’s Lakeside and Itchen Valley 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 that the parks have high standards of horticulture, safety and environmental management, and are places that support people to live healthy lives.”
Find out more about the two Country Parks at: www.eastleigh.gov.uk/country-parks-and-open-spaces