FIVE fabulous Gwent parks are in the running to be crowned the best in the UK - and members of the public will make the decision through a vote launched by the charity Fields in Trust.

Beechwood Park and Belle Vue Park in Newport, Parc Nant-y-Waun and the Welfare Park - both in Brynmawr, and Six Bells Park in Six Bells, Abertillery, are among 24 in Wales to be nominated for a public vote.

The UK’s Best Park Award recognises the role that parks play in our communities, in supporting mental and physical health, and in bringing people together.

Beechwood Park in Newport comprises 30 acres that were originally the private grounds of the now Grade Two-listed Beechwood House, built in the late 1870s for tobacco manufacturer and former Mayor of Newport George Fothergill.

South Wales Argus:

Beechwood Park, Newport

It has been a public park for approaching 120 years, containing play areas and shady tree-lined walks, and is a well-loved green space.

So too is Belle Vue Park, on the other side of the city, which opened in 1894. In the early 2000s the park's buildings and planting scheme were subject to renovation and restoration and it continues to be a popular bolt hole for people of all ages.

South Wales Argus:

Belle Vue Park, Newport

The two nominated parks in Brynmawr are just a short walk from each other, but offer different experiences.

The Welfare Park is a key sport and leisure venue in the town, boasting two children’s play areas, two football fields, two tennis courts, a skate park, and a cafe.

South Wales Argus:

Brynmawr Welfare Park

Parc Nant-y-Waun, on the opposite side of, and slightly further along, Warwick Road offers a different but no less relaxing experience, having been transformed from a magnet for rubbish dumping and anti-social behaviour into a haven for wildlife, covering more than 50 acres and boasting a range of differing habitats.

South Wales Argus:

Parc Nant-y-Waun, Brynmawr

Like Parc Nant-y-Waun, Six Bells Park - six miles further down the Ebbw Fach Valley - has benefited from the commitment of volunteers who formed a Friends group to help maintain it, ensuring it is clean, tidy and planted up with flower displays. It hosts a bowling green, tennis courts and play areas.

South Wales Argus:

Six Bells Park

Fields in Trust - which legally protects parks and green spaces in perpetuity - is concerned that many parks and green spaces are under threat and at risk of being lost to development or a cycle of decline and disappearance.

Last month it revealed that more than 2.5 million people across Britain live more than a 10-minute walk from a park or green space, while Wales has more than 230,000 people whose nearest green space is more than 10 minutes' walk from home.

It fears that, with public sector cuts leading to pressure on parks and green spaces, there is the risk that a lack of legal protection could lead to more being sold off or developed.

“Our parks and green spaces are a vital part of UK community infrastructure. We know that they provide benefits to the physical health, mental wellbeing and community connections for people that use them," said Fields in Trust chief executive Helen Griffiths.

"So we are delighted to see a record number of nominations for the UK’s Best Park award.

UK-wide there are 364 nominations for the Best Park award. The park with the most votes in each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be shortlisted, with the UK's Best Park, 2019 announced in mid-September.

For more information, and to vote - closing date Monday August 19 - visit