If we now set out what we might use a park for, the list will include, breathe fresh air, walk the dog, meet friends, relax, picnic, meet people who become friends, play games, organise games, watch organised games, become fitter, keep fit, read, take the children to enjoy themselves, give us time to think, inspire us ... and so on.
So, now we don't need to ask the question, why are parks important?
Did I hear someone call out "Volunteers"? Yes, generous and willing men and women – and sometimes children – are joining volunteer groups to keep an oversight on our open spaces. This may include a Friends-type organisation, or doing litter-picking rounds, arranging small public events, such as story-telling under the trees, managing guided walks, or keeping an eye open for possible repair needs and checking the notice boards are kept up to date.
Each year parks – including pocket parks – public gardens, cemeteries and other open spaces are submitted to the Green Flag scheme. The Scheme is administered through the Department for Communities and Local Government by the Keep Britain Tidy Group.
The council website declares responsibility for around 70 open spaces, but it does not declare how many of those were submitted for a Green Flag Award. However, this year, six sites were in receipt of an award at an event at Watford's Award-winning Cassiobury Park last Friday: Bricket Wood Common, Hatfield Road Cemetery, Rothamsted Park, Sopwell Nunnery, Clarence Park and Verulamium Park.
Two of those sites are in the East End and we are very proud to see the flags flying at both of the very well-maintained locations. Countless families help to take care of plots at the cemetery, and Fleetville Diaries local history group regularly organises story walks there. A residents' group and specific interest organisation overseen by Protect Clarence Park, help to ensure the good management of Clarence Park. Both open spaces are known to be well-loved by locals; St Albans Council is undoubtedly proud of its part, and John O'Conner, headquartered at Welwyn, is the partner with the council in the grounds management of these and the other open spaces in the district.
Having reached the Green Flag standard for these six locations, what next? Perhaps, with volunteer help, The Wick, with the improvements currently
being proposed, will manage to fly a flag in future years. Then someone might propose a general upgrade to Cunningham (Springfield) open space. And given that Fleetville Community Centre is planning a replacement building on its current site, it would be a joy to see improvements to Fleetville Recreation Ground.
In fact, we should all be proud of all of our open spaces, with the standard high enough for Green Flags everywhere.