Lesson from 2010 is demand to be heard

Looking back on the year's headlines, which began with last January's big freeze and closed with this week's localism bill and the toughest local authority spending cuts in recent history, it is hard to find a month - sometimes even a week - that has not brought fresh challenges to at least one part of the industry (see p6-9).

Those challenges included the difficulties of operating in an election year when so many critical decisions were put on hold until the outcome was known, and then until the outcome of the emergency budget was known, and then until the outcome of the comprehensive spending review was known - and so it went on.

But while there have been disappointments in the past 12 months - from the loss of yet more of the UK's horticultural science base to new threats to horticultural skills from a failure to grasp the economic significance of the industry in Government circles - there have been victories too. For example, Government backing for a supermarket ombudsman, a rethink on cuts to the Playbuilder scheme, a reprieve for the schools fruit and vegetable scheme and the intervention - albeit way too late in the day - from a secretary of state on the future of the Wellesbourne research station. That these developments took place at all was down to industry professionals demanding that they be heard. They should remind us that there is always everything to play for.

It is also the case, looking back over those same headlines, that despite the many challenges faced by the industry this year, there have been extraordinary achievements, many of which have been documented and celebrated in the industry's award schemes - not least Hillier Nurseries crowned international grower of the year, in recognition of its contribution to the 2012 Olympics.

- This is the last edition of HW before Christmas. Members of our team will be working throughout the Christmas and New Year period to bring you the latest developments via our website and email bulletins. You can sign up at www.HorticultureWeek.co.uk/bulletins. HW magazine will return on 14 January. On behalf of everyone on the team, may I wish you a very happy Christmas.

Email: kate.lowe@haymarket.com

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