Green Space or Grey Space?

Six parks in Luton have retained their Green Flags at this year’s awards, having been recognised once again for having excellent facilities, being well managed and maintained, having high standards of safety and for engaging the local community.

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for their management across the United Kingdom and around the world.

Cllr Paul Castleman, portfolio holder for Parks said, “This is fantastic news and we’re delighted that our parks have been awarded Green Flag status again. Parks are very important for health and wellbeing, and these awards demonstrate that residents are benefiting from green spaces of the highest quality. 

“We’re extremely proud of our green spaces in Luton and I would like to say a special thank you to our Parks and Countryside team, to the many volunteers, and to the Luton Friends of Parks and Green Spaces group, who work extremely hard to maintain our beautiful parks for everyone.”

Commenting on Luton’s success, Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.

“It is testament to the incredible dedication and hard work of parks staff and volunteers that, despite the challenges that went along with record numbers of visitors, Luton Council has achieved the highest international standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”

This is indeed great news for Luton, as the portfolio holder states, “parks are very important for health and wellbeing”, and as the CEO of Keep Britain tidy states “have been a lifeline to millions this year”.  Unless of course your local park stands in the path of Luton Borough Council’s obsession with airport expansion at all and any cost.

Wigmore Valley Park, is a District Park which is home to a Bedfordshire County Wildlife Site, is an Area of Local Landscape Value, and an Asset of Community Value to two of its neighbouring Parish Councils to the North and East. Last year it was among the thirteen top parks in the East of England by public nomination in a survey by Fields in Trust, achieving the Much Loved Status Award.   

Despite all these accolades, the outstanding work by the Parks staff who maintain it, and the hundreds of visitors from all over Luton and beyond who enjoy its beauty, it will never feature in the list of nominations, despite our group having a place on Luton Friends of Parks and Greenspaces. That is because even LBC, who propose a park, would find it hard to nominate a much loved local asset knowing that it plans to sacrifice it to the pollution monster that is Luton Airport.

The swathes of greenery must be lost, firstly to the economically unviable New Century Park Business Park, and its pollution-spewing multi-million-pound access road, and ultimately to the even more polluting Terminal 2 airport expansion fantasy, both totally unnecessary before the current economic crisis, and even more so now.

The sop of a flat bare replacement to the East of the current park is devoid of all mature trees and hedgerows, and being ex-arable farmland is heavily chemically fertilised so natural growth take years to reach the current variety and density, if at all. This site is but a shadow of what is already there and only exists in the pretty computer aided designs of expensive brochures, which are never a patch on Mother Nature’s own designs.

We say to Luton Borough Council, protect and preserve the bounties that nature has given us in Wigmore Valley Park, add it to the recommendations next year for Green Flag Status and add yet another jewel to those you already have, and stop all plans for expansion of any kind into our beloved park.

Save Wigmore Valley Park, Save the health and wellbeing of Luton

Stop Luton Airport Expansion

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