Five Sunderland parks are in the running for the prestigious park of the year award in the annual People’s Choice Award.
The parks in the running include Mowbray Park, Roker Park, Barnes Park, Herrington Country Park and Hetton Lyons Country Park.
Councillor Michael Mordey said: “Just to be in the awards is a huge achievement for the city in itself, and a tribute to everyone involved in their maintenance and upkeep.”
All parks nominated have the green flag award, the national standard for parks in the UK.
Recent research from the Fields in Trust suggest that parks and green spaces generate health benefits that would cost more than £34bn if they did not exist.
The charity, who protect parks and green spaces in the UK, also claim that parks save the NHS about £111m a year.
However, parks are under threat, accused of decline and subject to funding cuts.
Local resident, Janet Nicholson, 58, said on the issue: “I’m not sure you see more or less people in parks nowadays.
“Especially during the summer time, I haven’t noticed any decline in people in parks.”
On the importance of parks to public health, she added: “It gets me out of the house.”
Despite the positive news of parks in Sunderland being up for a major award, some in the city remain under threat.
West Park in Middle Herrington is subject to an ongoing campaign to stop development on the site.
Speaking of the Green Flag awards and funding cut issues, Councillor Mordey added: “We’re lucky enough to have some lovely parks here in Sunderland.
“A lot of hard work goes into maintaining parks across the city for people to enjoy, despite the funding cuts the service has seen in recent years. So it was fantastic to win Green Flag awards for five of our parks this year.”
Attached is an interactive map of parks in Sunderland, so you can research where to enjoy the potential health benefits of these spaces.
Green flag parks are identifiable by a green icon
To vote for your favourite Sunderland park as park of the year, visit: http://www.greenflagaward.org.uk/news/which-is-your-favourite-park/