It's Derby in gloom as floral displays face cut
DERBY'S flower beds are to be grassed over as the gloom of severe austerity measures bites.
The colourful floral displays on roundabouts which welcome visitors to the city, along with those brightening up Derby's parks, are costing more than £100,000 a year to fill and maintain.
So, as the Labour-led council looks into every avenue of how it can make the £62 million of cuts it needs in the coming three years, the city's blooms are facing the chop – permanently.
Ian Wheatley, head of grounds maintenance and cleaning at Derby City Council, said: "The flower beds and their maintenance is a discretionary service and sadly we are looking to remove all the flower bends and hanging baskets and replace them with either grass or produce permanent displays, with shrubs, that don't require the same maintenance and constant replacement."
Last year, the council – which was then led by a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition – grassed over 40% of the city's flower beds.
It also closed the glasshouses in Markeaton Park where the flowers to fill the beds had been grown, to save £170,000.
For the remaining displays on major traffic islands, like at Pentagon, and in the parks, the council bought in plants.
Now, the authority is stopping that altogether and grassing over all beds and taking down all hanging baskets to save £109,000.
Of that saving, £88,000 will come in 2013-14 with the final £21,000 in 2014-14.
Councillor Ranjit Banwait, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: "I was particularly upset at having to propose this.
"It is nice having these displays but with the Government cuts in funding we are having to face we are having to make tough decisions like this to maintain other important services."
The council said that it was interested to hear if businesses or other groups wanted to sponsor islands or flower beds but warned they would have to pay for the full cost.
Groups are also being urged to follow in the footsteps of successful community committees which have managed to create award-winning floral displays.
Spondon residents create all the floral displays for the village and have scooped awards and recognition in previous years from Britain in Bloom.
Village Improvement Committee member Derek Hathaway said: "It's disappointing the council is thinking of grassing over flower beds but obviously they are under huge pressure.
"Let's be honest, attractive as the flowering beds are, when faced with the expense of looking after the elderly and children as the council is, we have to respect the choice made."