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Take pride in your local park and dispose of litter responsibly

01 April 2021 : Community, Sport and leisure, Environment

Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) is responsible for maintaining a variety of parks and open spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy.

These treasured assets provide numerous health and wellbeing benefits to individuals and communities; the importance of which has been highlighted in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the 'Stay at Home' order lifted, people can now meet outdoors either in a group of six or from two households; and with the Easter holidays here, the Council is expecting to see a rise in the use of its parks and open space amenities.

The job of keeping the district’s parks and open spaces maintained for public use is a continual process. The Council’s Open Spaces team and cleansing contractor idverde, are regularly seen carrying out their cleaning, grounds maintenance and landscaping duties.

In many cases, the parks are also maintained in partnership with Town and Parish Councils, and 'Friends groups' made up of local volunteers who help improve and develop them. Their input is invaluable and supports the maintenance programme carried out by the Open Spaces team.

It is due to this effort that seven of the district’s parks are internationally recognised by the prestigious Green Flag Award scheme, hosted by environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy, to promote best standards amongst the green space sector.

Last year, Blenheim Gardens in Minehead received its first ever Green Flag Award.

Wellington Park retained its Green Flag Heritage Award, of which only two have been awarded in the West Country; and Comeytrowe Park, which is managed by the Friends of Comeytrowe Park group, retained its Community Green Flag Award.

Taunton’s Vivary, Victoria and French Weir Parks also retained their Green Flag status, along with Swains Lane Nature Reserve in Wellington, which is managed by the Swains Lane Community Group.

Often referred to as ‘the jewel in Taunton’s crown’ due to its stunning aspects and beautiful landscaping, Vivary Park offers plenty of open space for recreation and organised events. The park provides something for everyone; from the sensory garden to the free tennis courts, the picnic benches and the wildlife. The ducks have always been an attraction and the water quality in the park is improving.

Keeping it in prime condition involves a maintenance programme spanning the entire year.

Approximately 26,000 winter/spring bedding plants and 28,000 summer bedding plants are planted every October and May for the spring and summer flower displays. The planting is tended to individually with deadheading and watering throughout the flowering season.

The park’s borders are packed with shrubs which require minimum maintenance but are regularly pruned; and the trees, many of which were planted to commemorate historic occasions, are maintained by the Council’s arboricultural experts.

Grass cutting within the park starts in March with two cuts a month on average. The cutting programme normally ends in November, but with the mild weather in recent years, this has sometimes been extended into December.

Litter collections are carried out twice daily throughout the year, whatever the weather.  Should visitors find a bin that is full or overflowing, they should report it using the Council's online bin report form or to Customer Services on 0300 304 8000.

Structural features including the bandstand, fountain, gates and ornamental shelter, which are all listed, are regularly maintained on a rolling programme with one feature given a makeover each year. Most of the work is carried out by SWT’s Open Spaces team with occasional specialist assistance from outside contractors.

In addition to the park’s monthly inspections, Council staff also carry out daily visual checks of the equipment in the children’s play area.

Both SWT and its partners understand the importance parks and open spaces play in combatting loneliness and building community spirit, and as the lockdown restrictions continue to ease, they welcome larger groups to its parks and open spaces.

Visitors are encouraged to enjoy these public amenities responsibly by adhering to the Government’s latest Covid-safe guidelines, and to also to take pride in them, by disposing of their litter responsibly or by taking it home with them.

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