Horticulture industry trade bodies welcome post-election stability

Garden industry leaders look forward to a consumer spending boost now the election is over, but continuation of "austerity thought process" worries contractor representatives.

Image: HW
Image: HW

Garden Centre Association chair, Will Armitage said at the GCA conference in January economist Roger Martin Fagg quite accurately predicted a Conservative majority of six seats.

He added: "As far as retailers are concerned there's nothing like an election to create instability and after the election there is stability, which drives consumer spend. Now its over this will bring more stability into consumers' minds. Consumer spending always is a lot more confident after an election regardless of the outcome."

The HTA's Raoul Curtis-Machin said: "On balance we think it's good to have the stability, particularly with the Ornamentals Round Table."

He said Garden Cities and HS2 were now more likely to go ahead and the threat of a hung Parliament and another election this year were now gone, which were prospects the HTA were "dreading".

But he said there were downsides, such as fewer prospects of expanding Sunday trading and keeping Defra's independence.

For Scotland, where the Scottish Nationalist Party took almost all the seats, he said there was "interest" from SNP MPs in horticulture and he hoped many would attend an HTA reception at the Scottish Parliament on 27 May.

The Garden Industry Manufacturers Association said: "The British public have voted for continuity and so for the GIMA membership and many businesses around the UK it's business as usual."

Wayne Grills, chief operating officer of BALI, welcomed the chance to build on lobbying work and relationships formed with members of the Conservative government.

"It will allow some stability, consistency and hopefully some consolidation of the work that’s already taken place…rather than having to start afresh."

The downside was that the "austerity thought process" and swingeing cuts to local authority budgets would likely continue.

Landscape firms would need to find innovative ways to work with local councils who had drastically smaller budgets, Grills said.

Parks Alliance vice chairman Dr Sid Sullivan said: "Our overall aim is to take action with the Minster for Parks to secure properly funded and maintained parks across the UK and describing the benefits that they contribute to government policy and the community’s health and lifestyle.

"We also look forward to taking forward at the earliest opportunity the work commenced in the last parliament, and providing the Government with sound and rigorous advice and data about the assets that are the UK’s Parks and open spaces."

Geoff Webb, chief executive of the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG), said the institute would continue to challenge the Minister for Sport on issues the industry faced and press for stronger respect and understanding of sports turf management.

It would be interesting to see what role the Department for Culture, Media & Sport would play in the new government, Webb said.

"We will watch in the coming days the appointment process and seek to engage with whoever is appointed to continue to raise the profile standing and status of groundsmanship in general and the industry that supports it."

Among friends to horticulture unseated at the election were former secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group, Brian Donohoe.

Managing director of Bellenden which administers the group said:

"Brian Donohoe's huge contribution and years of commitment to the APPGHG will be sorely missed given his defeat in yesterday's election.  His has been a major contribution to the success of the Group over the last fifteen years."

He added: "I am sure his passion and commitment to the horticulture sector will continue outside of Parliament. The APPGHG will continue to build on his legacy and remain a positive advocated for the industry and its issues within Parliament.".

See more in HW 15 May.

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