TWENTY of East Lancashire’s best-loved parks have been awarded ‘Green Flag’ status – an accolade reserved only for the best green spaces in the country.

Eight parks in Pendle, five in Burnley and seven in Hyndburn have all been handed the national award today.

The Friends of Ball Grove Park, Trawden, who have been awarded the Green Flag for the first time after four attempts, say they are “thrilled”.

Jerry Stanford, secretary of the friends group, said: “Ball Grove Park has a different nature to the other Green Flag Award winners in Pendle with a focus as a country park, so we are thrilled that this difference has, at last, been recognised as similarly of merit.”

Ball Grove joins Marsden, Victoria and Walverden parks in Nelson, Memorial Park, in Barrowford, Heyhead Park in Brierfield, Valley Gardens in Barnoldswick and Alkincoats Park in Colne.

Coun Nadeem Ahmed, executive member for parks and recreation, said: “I’m delighted that Ball Grove Park is now included in Pendle’s Green Flag parks. It’s a massive achievement for us and for the Friends of Ball Grove, whose perseverance and dedication to the upkeep of the park, has paid off.”

In Hyndburn, Accrington Cemetery and Crematorium, Wilson playing fields and woodlands, Mercer Park in Clayton-le- Moors, Lowerfold Park in Great Harwood, Cutwood Park in Rishton and Oakhill and Gatty parks in Accrington have all been recognised.

The award judges green spaces in a number of criteria, including safety, cleanliness, sustainability, community involve- ment and management.

Coun Ken Moss, Hyndburn cabinet member for parks, said: “A lot of hard work by a lot of people has gone into getting these Green Flags and their award is a testament to the sterling job done by the many community groups and staff involved.

“The fact that we now have seven sites holding the prestigious Green Flag is great news for everyone, as this shows they are well managed and maintained, welcoming, safe for users and have good links with the local community.”

Burnley was also celebrating as Towneley, Scott, Ightenhill, Queen’s and Padiham Memorial parks were given Green Flags.

Burnley executive member for leisure and culture Coun Bea Foster said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive Green Flag Awards for the fifth year in a row recognising and highlighting that people in Burnley are benefiting from green spaces of the highest quality.

“To have not one but five award-winning parks in a relatively small town is a great achievement. The borough’s parks have something for everyone and I’d encourage people to make the most of the summer weather and visit their local park.”