There are now 25 parks and open spaces in Wirral nationally recognised as outstanding as this year’s Green Flag award winners are announced.
And for the first time, one of Wirral’s best-kept secret gardens - The Breck in Wallasey Village - has been awarded the accolade thanks to a growing partnership between Wirral Council and volunteers that has produced fantastic results.
In further good news for Wirral, gardener James Ashcroft who works at Birkenhead Park has been named Green Flag’s Employee of the Year for his work in helping to maintain the Grade 1 listed park to such a high standard.
The Green Flag Awards are handed out by environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy, and recognise the country’s best run and maintained parks and green spaces.
Wirral’s return of 25 awards means the borough once more has the most Green Flags of any local authority in the North West.
From Hilbre Islands in the west, across to Vale Park in the east, down to Eastham Country Park in the south and back across to Dawstone Park in Heswall, the beauty of Wirral’s parks and open spaces has been highlighted again, as well as the commitment shared by members of the public who volunteer their time and effort to keep them that way.
Cllr Phillip Brightmore, Cabinet member for Environment, said: “This is an outstanding achievement again made possible by the energy and efforts of council staff working alongside dedicated volunteers and Friends groups. Everyone is absolutely committed to ensuring our parks and green spaces remain the best they can be.'
“Whether it’s a big, well-known park like Wirral Country Park or a smaller, community space such as the Breck, it doesn’t make any difference – the achievement is the same and is testimony to tremendous organisation and commitment.”
Steve Michael, the Secretary of the Friends of The Breck, added: "I don’t think any of us can quite believe the transformation of the Breck from an overgrown, little used urban wasteland only 18 months ago, into a park gaining Green Flag status.
"Seeing rock climbers, dog walkers, families and cub groups all using the Breck, makes the work of the volunteers all worthwhile. Acheiving Green Flag status is something all the volunteers are very proud of, but none of this would have been achieved without the guidance and dedication of the Wirral Rangers who initiated this project."
The Breck sits on a ridge 80 feet above sea level, giving commanding views of north Wirral, the sea and the distant Welsh hills. An area of beautiful semi-natural woodland, The Breck is a haven for wildlife with an abundance of bird species, including longtailed tits and sparrowhawks. Ravens are frequently spotted soaring over the ridge.
The Breck was once owned by Sir John Tobin of Liscard Hall who developed the site as a quarry. The sandstone crags that remain from the old quarry, including Granny Rock, Bluebell Wall, Eagle Rock and the Overhang, provide some of the best rock climbing and bouldering in the Wirral area.
The Breck was one of 25 Green Flags awarded this week. In addition to getting its Green Flag, Birkenhead Park also retained its Green Heritage status and New Ferry Butterfly Park its Green Flag Community Award.
The national award for James Ashcroft was the icing on the cake for Wirral at this year’s awards and is well-deserved for someone who has proved himself an innovative and tireless member of the park’s maintenance team.
Cllr Brightmore said: “James is one of our most skilled heritage gardeners working for the council. He is truly an asset to this historic landscape and totally deserves the recognition of this award. We're all very proud of what he's achieved.”