Soak up the sun in our top parks

WHAT better way to appreciate the great outdoors than to take a stroll around your nearest park?

We flock to the green spaces in our towns every summer, at every given sunny opportunity to get away from bustle of concrete-clad town centres.

This week marks the fifth Love Parks Week, which aims to showcase the importance of our free to use green spaces.

And with 91 per cent of the Brititsh public believing that having a good park nearby can improve your quality of life, anyone living in the Ripley and Heanor area can boast some of the best open spaces in the country.

This week two of our parks were bestowed with the Green Flag Award, a nationally recognised sign to visitors that the park is well-maintained and well-managed, with excellent facilities.

Both Crossley Park in Ripley, which recently played host to Ripley Music Festival, and the picturesque Pennytown Ponds in Somercotes received the flag, which is only won after a series of close inspections from the Green Flag scheme’s rigorous judges.

It means Amber Valley now has four Green Flag parks, a record for a borough of its size.

Leader of Amber Valley Borough Council, Cllr Stuart Bradford, said: “This is fantastic news and the Green Flags for four of our parks is even more amazing. It highlights what an asset our parks and open spaces are, and is testimony to council’s ongoing commitment for improvement and the hard work and dedication of the staff who maintain the parks for the public’s enjoyment.”

In Somercotes, proud chairman of the parish council, Paul Smith, has seen the Pennytown Ponds grow from a wasteland to an award winning nature reserve.

He said: “Pennytown is extremely important to Somercotes, it was in a pretty poor way at one time but we formed a friends of Pennytown group to look after it and we worked with the community to raise the awareness of the ponds and promote them. The judges were as impressed with the ponds as we are.”