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Green Flag Award for Stover Country Park

Stover Country Park near Newton Abbot has received a Green Flag Award for the fifth consecutive year.

The Park is among a record 743 green spaces in England and Wales to receive the honour from the Civic Trust, and recognises it among the best green spaces in the country. It has been another successful year for Stover Country Park and Local Nature Reserve, and it is proving equally popular with visitors and wildlife.

Rare Downy Emerald Dragonflies were recorded to be breeding for the first time at the site in a newly renovated pond below the aerial walkway. Experts have been searching for them for over 15 years.

Dormice are having another successful breeding season in specially designed boxes, and a pair of Nightjar successfully reared two young on the heathland, while on Stover Lake three pairs of great crested grebe were present with two young hatched in July.

Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "It is a great achievement for Stover Country Park to have won the Green Flag Award for five years running. Devon is fortunate to have such a unique green space that provides excellent access for visitors, and the wildlife is flourishing which is testament to the hard work by the County Council Rangers and volunteers."

Councillor John Smith, Devon County Council Deputy Leader and local County Councillor for Kingsteignton, said: "The staff and volunteers at Stover Country Park have surpassed themselves by winning this award yet again. It takes a great deal of time and effort - much of it in people's spare time from the volunteers that help with everything from tree planting, nest box repairs, path maintenance, boardwalk construction, habitat work and wildlife recording. Their dedication and commitment is reflected in this superb award."

The Country Park, which is owned and managed by Devon County Council, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and listed on the register of Historic Parks and Gardens. It hosts the Ted Hughes Poetry Trail and earlier this spring a new outdoor classroom was added to the children's poetry trail area.

The 114 acre site attracts over 200,000 visitors a year. So far in 2008, a team of four Devon County Council Rangers, supported by volunteers, have accommodated visits from 1,009 pupils and students. That includes 34 schools, three pre-school nurseries, two colleges and one international visit from French students. In addition, 14 community groups and organisations held activity visits to the park including local scouts, guides, and conservation groups.

Green Flag Award winners are judged to be welcoming, safe and well maintained with the support and involvement of the local community.

For more information visit: www.greenflagaward.org.uk.

You're never too young to join your library

Fourteen-hour-old twins are amongst the youngest new members that signed up during Devon County Council's month long campaign to encourage people to join their local library.

The big push for new members, carried out during May, was part of a wide range of events around Devon County Council libraries in honour of the National Year of Reading.

Prizes were offered to the youngest members to sign up - with surprising results.

Executive Member for Culture Councillor Sheila Hobden explained: "We were all surprised at the number of very young entrants - there were 19 babies all under two weeks old! Over 200 entries were received, much to our delight.

"There is a wealth of research demonstrating the importance of sharing books with children from a very early age, and we take our role in this area very seriously. Our libraries have plenty of board books for young children, as well as story and rhyme CDs, and groups such as Bounce and Rhyme.

"We gained around 2,000 more new library members in May this year compared to the same month last year, which is an excellent result, and we hope they are all now discovering the wide variety of services on offer to them at their local library."

Amongst the new young members were twins Evie and Emme Arrowsmith from Braunton.

Mum Seaneen said: "Their big brother Oliver joined the library at an early age and we were keen that our little ladies would get the same enjoyment from books that he had."

Exmouth in Bloom benefits from County Council funding

The Exmouth in Bloom campaign to enhance the town is to receive £500 towards its running costs thanks to Devon County Council's East Devon County Committee.

The eight County Committees have budgets from which Committee Members can allocate grants to local community groups or projects which will make a big difference to people's lives, in line with the Council's Strategic Plan.

The proposal to contribute towards the floral campaign was put forward by County Councillor for Exmouth Littleham Town Cllr Eileen Wragg.

Cllr Wragg said: "Exeter Road has many interesting shops businesses. The traders are working together to give one of the main roads into Exmouth a 'lift', by adding freshness and colour to the area. This is a real community effort to provide a pleasant shopping experience to shoppers, which will also improve the economic well-being of the town."

Tour of Britain to return to Devon

DEVON County Council is aiming to help make the south west stage of the Tour of Britain the most exciting of the entire event.

The 185km route through the region on Tuesday 9 September has been unveiled as the longest of the entire race.

The stage is being hosted by Somerset County Council with the support of Devon County Council, South Somerset District Council, Exmoor National Park Authority and the South West Regional Development Agency.

Organisers predict it will once again prove the toughest of the event, setting off from Chard in Somerset, before crossing the Blackdown Hills with a King of the Mountains climb. The 80 km through Devon takes in Tiverton, South Molton and another King of the Mountain trial in North Molton. The stage then continues on to Exmoor and Somerset, finishing in Burnham-on-Sea.

Councillor Margaret Rogers, Executive Member for Environment, said: "As the lead councillor for our overall approach to cycling, I am delighted with the success the County Council has had in creating quality cycle routes in Devon. Supporting the the Tour of Britain as it passes through Devon this year is another feather in our cap and further recognition of the opportunities the county offers for cyclists of all ages."

Councillor Humphrey Temperley, Devon County Council Executive Member for Economic Regeneration and Regional Affairs, said: "Last year's stage through Devon was a resounding success, not only as an incredible spectacle, but also in terms of the visitors that it attracted to the area. With the event returning, and this time with an extended route through Devon, hopefully even more local businesses can benefit this time around. We would like communities along the route to join in the festivities of this event, show their support to the riders and enjoy the occasion of such a prestigious sporting event."

Councillor Des Hannon, Devon County Council's Member Champion for Cycling and County Councillor for Tiverton East, attended the Tour of Britain south west stage launch. He said: "I'm responsible for promoting cycling in Devon, so I'm thrilled that we've been able to tempt the country's premier race to come here for an even bigger visit.

"On a personal note, I'm absolutely delighted that the organisers have chosen to come to my hometown of Tiverton. The race is a real coup for our beautifully refurbished town centre and we'll make everyone welcome. It's also a great opportunity for our young people to see elite athletes in action on our streets."

Councillor Ray Radford, Devon County Councillor for Willand and Uffculme, said: "As the event makes its way from the Blackdown Hills through the Culm Valley to Tiverton, I'm certain the support teams and visitors will not fail to notice the stunning countryside. I hope the competitors will not lose too much time admiring it, and that they will come back and see us when they are not in so much hurry. Until then, we thank everyone who will visit and hope it is a good competition."

Councillor Mary Turner, Devon County Councillor for Tiverton West, said: "Enjoy the race and stop off and enjoy Tiverton."

Councillor Jeremy Yabsley, Devon County Councillor for South Molton Rural, said: "Hosting part of this stage of the Tour of Britain is a real coup for Devon and I'm sure South Molton and North Molton can provide the backdrop and challenge required for such a prestigious event. We look forward to welcoming the thousands of visitors that this race attracts, especially as it expected to be the biggest and best Tour of Britain yet."

Last year, Romain Feillu of France won the overall title, but Britain was well represented with Mark Cavendish taking the jersey for Hot Spot Sprints and Ben Swift winning the King of the Mountains.

The Tour of Britain 2008 is the biggest the race has ever been and will be televised daily on ITV4. The eight day race starts in London on 7 September and finishes in Liverpool on 14 September.

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