Usk in Bloom makes Monmouthshire council funding bid
An award-winning Welsh town dubbed the "Town of Flowers" is asking for financial help as it bids to win the "world cup of floral competitions".
Usk in Monmouthshire has won the Wales in Bloom large village category for 36 years in a row and is nominated for 2018's Champions of Champions UK event.
The five-time British champion has also been asked to represent Wales in the World in Bloom challenge.
Usk in Bloom has asked Monmouthshire council for a one-off £3,000 grant.
Volunteers have raised concerns that the closure of the main street through the town for 12 weeks from Monday for gas pipe replacements will affect the ability of businesses to pay for their own floral displays, as their trade could be impacted.
Organisers said: "Given the loss of several banks and a high turnover of retailers, Usk in Bloom cannot guarantee the business community's participation in hanging basket floral displays, which is fundamental."
Usk, a town of less than 3,000 residents, lost its shot at the 2015 Champions of Champions title by one point.
A report to Monmouthshire council's cabinet said "a half-hearted high street would mean little chance of success".
"Funds will also be used to encourage the use of hanging baskets by businesses in the main street," added Tony Kear, chairman of the Usk in Bloom charity.
The UK Champions of Champions judging will take place in July while the 2018 Communities in Bloom International Challenge - featuring towns from as far afield as Japan and the United States - would judge Usk in late June.
"We're thrilled that Britain in Bloom have put us forward for that event and think we can compete with the best in the world" said Mr Kear, a former Usk mayor.
"It's a real community effort, done totally by volunteers because we are proud of our town and we are proud of what we have achieved."
Councillor Phil Murphy said a hanging basket contribution from Monmouthshire council would "reflect the hard work and commitment demonstrated by the charity and local community".
"Usk have a very consistent high standard, they are the standard bearers," said Jim Goodwin, chairman of Wales in Bloom. "They are the Manchester United of our competition."