Stoke & Staffordshire

Cuts to leave park flower beds empty in Stoke-on-Trent

Flower beds in Stoke-on-Trent's parks and open spaces will be left empty this winter to help the council save money.

The coalition city council said summer bedding plants would be allowed to die back naturally but would not be replaced between September and May.

About £70,000 would be saved by the cut back, the council said.

But volunteers who secured a £2.1m lottery grant to upgrade a Victorian park in Burslem said it was counterproductive if it had no flowers.

Burslem Park was awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant in March after it was judged to be a park of national historic importance.

'Wrong path'

It is one of the largest Victorian parks in the UK and lies within an area identified by the city council as a priority for regeneration.

Mike Watson, from Burslem Park Partnership group of park volunteers, said: "It's a real shame.

"I understand there needs to be cuts but I think cutting the flower budget is going down the wrong path.

"We should be making the most of the heritage lottery grant, not making it look even worse."

The council said sponsored roundabouts and Carmountside crematorium beds would not be affected by the cuts.

Councillor Terry Follows, cabinet member for environment, waste management and neighbourhood services, said: "We are instructing our ground staff to keep the current bedding plants as long as possible so we will hopefully only have empty beds through the coldest part of winter.

"In May next year we will be re-planting ready for the summer season when people use parks most. These are hard financial times and we need to make savings."

In the Labour-led coalition cabinet, the Labour group has five seats, the Conservative and Independent Alliance has two seats, the Liberal Democrats have one seat and the City Independent Group has two seats.

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