FOUR parks are flying the green flag for Oxford after winning top awards.

Bury Knowle, Florence, Hinksey and Cuttleslowe parks, run by Oxford City Council , have all been recognised with Green Flags.

The announcement has been welcomed by officers and delighted users of the green spaces.

Friends of Bury Knowle Park chairman Rosemary Belton said the group was happy the open space had earned its second Green Flag award.

She said: “We’re really pleased to have it. We got it for the first time last year, and we weren’t sure how it really worked, but the park people at the council were sure we had got it again this year.

“We’ve done quite a lot of things in the park this year. Last year when they came out the play area was still being constructed, so it was nice for them to be able to see it this completed year.”

She said parts of the park had a Narnia theme, in honour of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe author CS Lewis ’ close links with the park when he served as a don at Oxford University .

She said: “We have a wardrobe door into the play area.

“It’s nice to have something individual for the park. We also did an exercise with bird boxes, working with St Andrew’s School.”

The Green Flag award was founded in 1996 as a way of recognising the best green spaces throughout the country, and is now widely seen as the national standard.

Judges base their decision on eight key criteria.

Winning parks must be welcoming places with a “positive and inviting” first impression. They must also be healthy, safe and secure, as well as being clean and well maintained.

Another key criteria is sustainability, with an emphasis on environmental best practice, and another is conservation and heritage.

Community involvement is something else the judges look for, along with good marketing and working management strategies.

Awards are given annually, with winners re-applying each year to renew their “Green Flag status”.

Oxford City Council board member for sports and parks, Mark Lygo, said: “I am really pleased that the hard work of our staff has paid off.

“Officers take pride in their work and want to maintain a good standard throughout our parks; this has now been proven from the fact that we have retained the Green Flag status for these four parks.

“We want to make sure that we will keep this high standard in our parks and continue to promote the benefits of the park to both the environment and community.”