The Best Park

Mid and East Antrim Borough joins search for UK’s best park

Marine Gardens Carrickfergus

A nationwide search to find the country’s favourite local green space, as nominated and selected by public vote, has just started. The national charity, Fields in Trust has launched the campaign to find the UK’s Best Park.

This unique award, as voted by the general public, is open to all public green spaces across the UK through a simple online nomination at

Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne

Launching the awards, former England international footballer, Graeme Le Saux, said: “The Fields in Trust’s annual awards are a fantastic way for us to recognise the organisations and individuals who help make our parks, playgrounds and playing fields the best they can be. “I was very fortunate that growing up in Jersey I had a huge amount of access to outdoor spaces and it was something I really appreciated as a youngster, not just because I wanted to be a football player but also because I was able to spend time outdoors with my friends. I understand the importance of these spaces and the opportunities they provide for our communities.

People’s Park, Ballymena

It might be that a local park is ideal for a Sunday afternoon stroll, or a neighbourhood playground is a hive of activity for children, or a nature reserve provides a stress-free space to relax. Either way, this is a chance to get everyone’s favourite space the recognition it deserves.”

Three of Mid and East Antrim Borough’s parks are in the running for the UK’s Best Park Award:

  • Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne,
  • Marine Gardens, Carrickfergus and
  • The People’s Park, Ballymena.

All residents are encouraged to show what these green spaces mean to them and to cast their vote at nomination at Voting has already opened for the nominated parks. The park with the most votes in each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will then be shortlisted.

Nominators will be invited to attend the prestigious Fields in Trust Awards on Wednesday 30th November where the ‘UK’s Best Park- as voted by YOU! 2016’ will be named.


New Bees in Carnfunnock

Carnfunnock Country Park buzzing with biodiversity

bee3Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has joined forces with a specialist conservation group and introduced a new managed bee colony to Carnfunnock Country Park. Working in partnership with the East Antrim Bee Keepers Association (EABKA), Mid and East Antrim Borough Council believes the move will make a significant contribution to biodiversity in the Borough.

Councillor Billy Ashe, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough said: “We’re

Bee Keeping members
Rev Stephen Robinson, Secretary of the East Antrim Bee Keepers Association (EABKA) is pictured with EABKA colleagues, staff from Carnfunnock and the Mayor Councillor Billy Ashe as he prepares to meet the Native Irish Honeybees.

delighted to support the East Antrim Bee Keepers Association with this new initiative and to welcome these flying friends. The introduction of bee hives and promotion of local honey bees within Carnfunnock Country Park will significantly contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in the Mid and East Antrim Area. “Bees not only pollinate crops, they also help maintain the diversity of wildflowers we have, and the Carnfunnock bees will help maintain some of the spectacular wildflowers we have in the Borough. The influence of honey bees is much greater than just producing honey,” Cllr Ashe continued.

“Bees and other pollinators have a positive effect on birds and mammals that rely on the fruits and seeds produced by our native plants, and they promote other insects, including those beneficial ones that attack crop pests. Bees are an immediately recognisable feature of flower rich areas, and by protecting and promoting bees and their habitats, we’re not only protecting them but our wider biodiversity as well,” he said.

Honey Bees at hive
Domestic honey bee

Rev Stephen Robinson, Secretary of the East Antrim Bee Keepers Association, said the move is important for biodiversity and also that the public have nothing to fear from these creatures: “The bees we’re introducing are an East Antrim-bred line of apis melifera melifera (Native Irish Honeybee) and are a very docile strain. As Irish pollinators are in decline, it’s important we take measures – such as the establishment of new native honey bee colonies – to address this and avoid consequences for our food sustainability, as well as local biodiversity. East Antrim Beekeepers Association welcomes this biodiversity partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and hopes the Carnfunnock Apiary will be the first of many strategically placed, managed honeybee colonies on sites within the Council area.”


  1. In the last year, 14.5% of honey bee colonies have been lost nationally, twice the level needed to sustain the population.
  2. Honey bees are threatened by multiple diseases, parasitic mites, the implications of climate change and lack of diverse habitats for their food supply.
  3. The number of managed honey bee colonies declined by 53% between 1985 and 2005, and meadowlands across the country have dropped by a staggering 97% since the 1930s. A lot of farmland is now “green desert” because of the loss of wildflower verge and hedgerows as bees can’t forage on grassland.
  4. Today, there are no ‘wild’ colonies left in Northern Ireland. Any swarms that appear now are from managed stocks and if left in the wild will perish within 1-2 years due to disease so it’s very important that new managed stocks are introduced.
  5. EABKA is one of the oldest bee keeping associations in Northern Ireland (1941) with members ranging from teenagers to elderly men and women, keeping bees across East Antrim from Glenarm to Greenisland.
  6. EABKA meets the third Thursday of the month in Ballycarry Community Centre at 8pm and new members are always welcome.
  7. They plan to run a Beginners Beekeeping Course lasting 10 weeks over the winter months.  Website is  DARD estimates that there are 3,000 beekeepers in the Republic of Ireland and 700 in Northern Ireland, who keep hives of bees and produce honey.
  8. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has a statutory duty to protect and enhance biodiversity in the Borough and this will be complementary to the Mid and East Antrim local Biodiversity Action Plan.
  9. For Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Media enquiries, please contact: Brian McCalden, Communications & Engagement Coordinator, Tel: 028 2563 5041 or Louise Kennedy, Change Manager, Tel: 028 2563 5043. Mob: 07808106270.