Community leaders have spoken of their pride after a Weymouth beauty spot was given top marks in an award scheme.

Sandsfoot Gardens off Old Castle Road have been awarded the highest possible mark in Keep Britain Tidy’s prestigious Green Flag Awards.

The awards recognise and reward the best parks, gardens and green spaces in the country.

The gardens are maintained by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council in association with local volunteers.

Council spokesman for community facilities Cllr Ian Bruce said: “This award should really highlight the dedication and pride the people here take in their work, and how much they care about these gardens.

“The council always gets criticised for what we spend money on but in terms of value for money, this is the best of what we do.

“I would encourage everyone in the borough to come and visit these gardens all year round.

“It’s really designed for local people.

“This is a really fantastic place and is often unknown by many people.”

The gardens, which are home to a variety of flower and herb beds, a fish pond and a small cafe, lead down to Sandsfoot Castle, which was built by Henry VIII in 1539 to defend Portland Harbour. Head gardener Martin Mildon, of Springfield, said: “It’s great to get the award and it’s really nice to see so many people enjoying the gardens.

“That’s what it’s all about really.”

The gardens were first awarded the Green Flag Award after they were opened in 2012.