Row over scrapping of Barnard Castle flower scheme

A FIVE-year project to improve flower displays around Barnard Castle town centre has been scrapped after just 12 months.

Town councillors agreed to consider the project complete and that money to pay for extra flower tubs would be better spent on a mass bulb planting scheme in all garden areas.

However, Councillor Thom Robinson demanded to know how a five-year scheme could be judged complete after just 12 months.

He also asked whether a five-year plan to improve the street scene had actually existed.

Coun Robinson said: “How do we get from a five-year improvement scheme to it being completed in one?”

There are currently 40 tubs around the town used for flower displays and Coun Roger Peat, chairman of the floral and open spaces working group, said that was considered enough.

At their December meeting, councillors were told complications over how the tubs would be watered and maintained was another reason not to increase the number of displays.

Coun Peat said: “It was felt that spending money on more tubs was not viable and that we should concentrate on other areas.

“The tubs are great for the summer, but how far do we keep on going? We are better looking at the garden areas around the town.”

Coun Robinson suggested hanging baskets, rather than tubs, could be put outside shops, with the traders asked to take responsibility for watering.

However, the meeting was told this was not cost effective and previous experience had shown the baskets would not get watered.

“It costs £50 per lamp-post to put up a hanging basket. We have to make things viable money-wise,” added Coun Peat.

“There are neglected garden areas in the town which would be better addressed and we would like to think we are spending people's money properly. We need value for money.”

Councillors voted in to scrap the floral display project in favour of a mass bulb planting scheme, with Coun Robinson abstaining.

The mass bulb planting will be carried out in conjunction with the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership.

The town council has also agreed to plant trees on the saturated lower part of Green Lane play area in a bid to solve waterlogging problems.

Groundwork North-East has secured cash under the Big Tree Plant project and had asked if there was any part of Barnard Castle that could be included in the scheme.

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