PARKS in Taunton, Wellington and Minehead have been judged among the best in the country under the Green Flag Award Scheme.

Minehead's Blenheim Gardens received a Green Flag Award for the first time, while Vivary, Victoria and French Weir Parks in Taunton retained theirs, as did Swains Lane Nature Reserve in Wellington.

Wellington Park kept its Green Flag Heritage Award, one of only two in the South West, and Comeytrowe Park again has a Community Green Flag Award.

There were celebrations in Minehead over the achievement of the six-acre Blenheim Gardens, the jewel in the town's crown. that was created in the 1920s.

The accolades are overseen by Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Cllr Richard Lees, Somerset West and Taunton Council exective member for sports, parks and leisure, said; "These awards are a sign to the public that our parks and open spaces boast the highest possible environmental standards, are beautifully maintained and have excellent visitor facilities.

"SWT knows how much green spaces like these matter to our residents and visitors, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic when people have seen the value of having great quality green spaces on their doorstep.

"We are extremely proud to retain these awards and particularly to achieve Green Flag status for the first time for Blenheim Gardens.

"The awards are testament to the dedication of our staff and the wonderful volunteers who put so much effort into maintaining our parks and open spaces and I would like to thank everyone who has worked with us to gain this international recognition."

Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton 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, these parks and open spaces have achieved the highest international standards demanded by the Green Flag Award."