‘Wild’ suggestion to please the Queen

PUBLISHED: 11:59 22 November 2011

Her Majesty the Queen.

Her Majesty the Queen.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Budget cuts force Honiton Town Council to scrap town centre floral displays - but business leaders think wild flowers could provide an inexpensive splash of red, white and blue for Her Majesty’s diamond jubilee.

Honiton will be without civic floral displays in the town centre during the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations - a decision that has upset business leaders.

They are suggesting wild flowers could be used to create a patriotic splash of colour at minimal cost.

Honiton Town Council says it does not have the cash for displays in High Street and that hanging baskets and flowerbeds are being scrapped.

A £4,000 shortfall in sponsorship has been blamed for the decision.

Members of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry believe simple displays of red, white and blue flowers could be achieved

Mayor Vernon Whitlock told the chamber’s November meeting in a written report that the town council had decided not to increase its budget for the next financial year “at this time of hardship for many residents”.

He explained: “One of the casualties of this decision is the maintenance and planting of the flowerbeds, where the budget has been halved.

“This means there will be no hanging baskets or floral displays in the town centre next year, no winter planting and the flowerbed outside Slade’s will be grassed over.”

Councillor Whitlock added: “If the chamber has any thoughts on how to raise a further £4,000 in sponsorship to safeguard the service, we would be pleased to hear them.”

Colin Wright, the chamber’s chairman, said: “There is no way we’ve got £4,000 to spare.”

Chamber secretary Margaret Lewis agreed, saying: “Nobody has.”

She went on to add: “I don’t know why they can’t put wild flowers down - red poppies, white daisies and blue cornflowers.”

After the meeting, she explained: “Seeds in flowerbeds would cut down the cost of propagation, provide good ground cover, so no weeding required, and are hardy so won’t need watering. They are also good for butterflies and bees and no-one would want to steal them.”

Speaking to The Herald following the chamber’s meeting, Councillor Whitlock said: “We are looking to reduce costs on flowerbeds with permanent planting, rather than annuals.

“This is particularly the case on flowerbeds at the entrance to the town on Highways Agency Land where the location prohibits volunteers maintaining the beds.

“The town council would be pleased to hear from any organisation that would be interested in sponsoring planting of beds.”

The flower display outside St Paul’s Church, maintained by members of Honiton Gardening Club, is unaffected by the town council’s cost-cutting - as is the display on the corner of New Street.

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Anybody willing to sponsor flower displays is urged to contact the town clerk on (01404) 42957.


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