Only one of Croydon’s 120 parks achieves Green Flag status

This, in case you didn’t already know, is Love Parks Week.

Award-winning: Wandle Park

In Croydon under Conservative Mayor Jason Perry, it seems, we don’t love our parks very much.

Croydon has more than 120 parks and open spaces within its boundaries, ranging from the 200-acre Selsdon Wood to many recreation grounds and sports fields scattered throughout the borough. Nearly half of these cherished open spaces are what are known as “locally listed” parks and gardens.

And only one Croydon park has been judged good enough to receive the internationally recognised accolade of Green Flag status.

A sorry little press release plopped into the inbox here at Inside Croydon Towers last week, straight from the propaganda bunker at Fisher’s Folly.

It was clear from the release’s tone that it was tinged with embarrassment. They wanted to celebrate the achievement of Wandle Park, the only Croydon park to be awarded a Green Flag, yet they realised that by announcing it, they would give the game away that another 119 other open spaces have been so badly neglected by the council that they don’t merit such an award.

“A full list of Green Flag award-winning parks and green spaces is available here,” the council press release stated, somewhat tersely, at the end, a communications equivalent of pushing towards us a document that they’d rather we didn’t see at all.

The word “Croydon” features just once in the 63-page Green Flag listings for 2023-2024.

Other London councils fare much, much better.

There are 15 parks in Sutton that have been granted Green Flag status, 18 in Lewisham, 34 in Hackney and 31 in Westminster. Hillingdon appears to have done particularly well: 70 of the west London borough’s parks have been awarded Green Flag status.

Compared to Croydon’s one.

There are other, important open spaces in and around Croydon that have been deemed good enough, by the nice people at Keep Britain Tidy who manage the process, to have been granted Green Flag status. But these are all looked after by organisations other than Croydon Council, where piss-poor Perry, the borough’s elected Mayor, put up Council Tax this April by 15per cent.

The charity, the London Wildlife Trust, has ensured that the Hutchinsons Bank nature reserve, near New Addington, has Green Flag status.

And the City of London’s Commons rangers team have, as Inside Croydon reported last month, maintained this important status at Coulsdon Common, Farthing Downs, Kenley Common, Riddlesdown and Spring Park.

The commons in and around Croydon and managed by the City comprise nearly 2,000 acres of outstanding natural environments which attract 2.5million visits annually.

But of more than 120 parks in its care, Croydon Council only got one up to the benchmark Green Flag standard.

Even in that instance, much of the credit seems to go to local residents who form the Friends of Wandle Park group.  “The Green Flag is extremely important to the park. It shows the park is being looked after,” said Matthew Lucas, a member of Wandle Park Friends’ Group.

Credit where it’s due: pompous Perry got in on the photo op for Wandle Park’s Green Flag

Inevitably, pompous Perry blathered on in the council press release, dripping with insincerity: “Bringing back our Green Flag status to Wandle Park shows our commitment to protecting and maintaining this fantastic park, so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Note that: “commitment“.

“We are so proud of our parks teams and local volunteers who have helped to restore Wandle Park as one of our borough’s best green spaces.”

Perry was, typically, front and centre for a photo-op, as if he’d had anything to do with Wandle Park’s Green Flag status. Increasingly, people are asking: just what does the plastic guttering salesman do for his £82,000 annual salary from the council?

For more than a year, locals and the Friends of Wandle Park have been calling on the Mayor and the council to reopen the café in the park, and the associated public toilets. A new operator is needed. But typically, nothing has happened.

Three years of lockdowns and the council’s bankruptcy have taken their toll on the borough’s parks, where litter bins go unemptied for weeks on end, the once prize-winning flower beds have been abandoned, and where “No Mow May” has become “No Mow June, July and August”.

Inside Croydon has reported previously of the sorry dereliction, almost abandonment, of the borough’s once pristine green spaces – at Norwood Grove, at Heathfield House and at Haling Manor and Park Hill Recreation Ground.

For Perry and the faceless bureaucrats pushing pens and counting paperclips in Fisher’s Folly, Croydon’s public open spaces and the heritage buildings they often surround are not something to be “enjoyed for generations to come”, but mere assets on a spreadsheet, ready to be flogged off.

According to the council’s own press release, this year “a record 2,216 parks – the largest number since the scheme began 27 years ago – are proudly raising their flags”. But only one of those is under Croydon Council management.

For Wandle Park, a decade after it was significantly remodelled, the “award recognises the council’s commitment to keeping it looking its best… as a key green space for the benefit of the community, and local environment”. Note the use of that word again: “commitment”.

But in 2023, the well-earned Wandle Park Green Flag provides a clear warning signal for the borough’s other, seriously under-threat parks.

Read more: Locals concerned that Perry plans to sell listed Norwood Grove
Read more: Council’s once-prized listed building Heathfield House left to rot
Read more: Cressey College looks to be on the rocks over park and Ofsted

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at
  • As featured on Google News Showcase
  • Our comments section on every report provides all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in City Commons, Community associations, Coulsdon, Croydon Council, Croydon parks, Environment, Friends of Wandle Park, Hutchinson's Bank, Mayor Jason Perry, Norwood Grove, Park Hill Recreation Ground, Wandle Park and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Only one of Croydon’s 120 parks achieves Green Flag status

  1. James Seabrook says:

    When I moved to the Borough of Croydon in 1995 one of the things which impressed me was the wealth of open spaces which were carefully looked after and clearly with pride.

    Sadly not all that long ago I began to notice a decline in the quality of the areas and it has now become yet another embarrassment in the Croydon portfolio of embarrassing things.

    Such decline is not going to do anything to help the morale of being a Croydon resident, which no doubt has taken a beating since the recent atrocious leaders of the council have been in place. I’m hopeful that at some point when these leaders have been relieved of their positions things might improve again.

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Much of the credit seems to go to local residents who form the Friends of Wandle Park group? Perhaps all the credit goes to those residents. It is not the minimal work and rampant neglect of Croydon Council that helped get the award. It was not the savage cuts to the parks department that got that award. It is not the atrocious contract awards of this Council that got that award.
    No it was the hard working efforts of local residents and volunteers.

    Perry by taking credit is behaving like a vampire bat, wantonly sucking the life blood out of other humans for its own fullfillment.

    Every park in this Borough purporting to be managed by this council should be taken out of this sordid body’s hands and handed over in trust to local residents and visitors and run by volunteers who should get a council tax rebate for their efforts.

    • Lewis White says:

      The Trust concept has, I think, been done over the years at different places, with success. The Crystal Palace park is a big one.

      In theory, non-council groups can get funding from sources that Counculs can’t. But where such magc money trees exist, I have no idea.

      Not sure about failures. There might be some.

      My own feeling is that volunteers should provide the non-basics that the council could no longer provide — the cherry on the cake. Like looking after heritage type gardens, but to supplement skilled employed staff.

      Volunteers come and go. There are probably going to be more people willing to, and able to provide the signifcant amount of time, in richer areas.

      Maintaining parks needs lots of expensive equipment like ride on mowers, and somewhere secure to store them. It involves activities like strimming, and unlovely things like picking up litter, and dog excreta and discarded poo bags, and repairing vandalism, as well as interesting things like pruning roses and planting trees.

      My guess is that overal, if parks were funded properly, the Council staff would do a good job. The problem is that they are fewer in number, and the structure is pared down and de-skilled through lack of traning and de-moralised.

      The right place for Parks is surely with local Councils?

      Why can’t a country like the UK seemingly be unable to afford to look after Parks now, but could in the 1970’s?

      Civic pride in Parks used to be the rule.
      Or am I just looking back to a mythical Golden Age?

    • Chris Flynn says:

      Re your 2nd paragraph, I think the word you’re reaching for is “parasite”…
      Re your 3rd paragraph, I think that is the dream of the right.

  3. Stephen Blythman says:

    I don’t know the budget of the parks department, but I cannot believe they spend more than a few thousand for the grass cut at Lloyd Park, they do absolutely nothing else.

  4. Lewis White says:

    The Green Flag award is a respected award, of which the Friends and anyone involved in looking after Wandle park can be proud.

    It is a shame that other parks in Croydon have slipped off the list.

    It can’t be an accident.

    Like virtally everything else, good standards depend on inputs– inputs of good management, good labour, and good money.

    Croydon might be bankrupt, but it needs to reinvent itself.

    The Parks–which are used by all ages, and are important for children and parents especially– need TLC–and enough of the three inputs.

  5. Brian Finegan says:

    When you refer to the faceless bureaucrats pushing pens and counting paper clips you do mean the government appointed board and executive leadership?

    After all the redundancies, I expect the remaining council staff are doing twice as much work with half the resources needed to deliver even a basic service – and they weren’t the ones who caused the scandals.

    I think we need to appreciate more the thankless work of council employees who often get blamed for the politician’s reckless decisions and subsequent cover-up attempts. Our politics and governance are corrupted, but the vast majority of council employees are ordinary people like us but probably feel that they’re like crew on the Titanic.

    • Executive leadership, Brian.
      The decision-makers. The real ones.
      There are more director-level staff in Fisher’s Folly today than there was in August 2020, when Jo Negrini was in charge, Heather Cheesbrough was ignoring the local plan in planning, and just down the road, Colm Lacey was passing himself off as someone who could be trusted to run a whelk stall (he wasn’t).
      Yes, the staff cuts have been made, but mainly to front-line staff. Like the parks team and gardeners. Rarer than dodos these days.
      For the execs, nothing much has changed.

  6. Matthew Lucas says:

    As a regular user of Wandle Park, I am glad that it has regained its Green Flag status. I would however prefer that next time it comes up for renewal that things are done in advance and not within the 2 weeks before judgement day and things are not swept under the carpet to be hidden until after the adjudicators have left. I would also love to see at least a few of Croydon’s other parks gain the Green Flag status also. As for the cafe in Wandle Park…. One can hope that the Council acts before the thing falls down!!

Leave a Reply