Britain in Bloom entries hit by fall as councils axe display budgets

RHS suggests engaging volunteers and friends groups may sustain competition campaigns.

Britain in Bloom is losing entrants because local authorities are overstretching themselves, competition organiser the RHS has suggested.

The society spoke after a number of councils said they were scaling back budgets and one was quitting the event altogether. Darlington Borough Council's entry into Northumbria and Britain in Bloom fell victim to cuts last week.

Darlington said floral displays were being reduced in the town's South Park and across the borough as it looked to find savings of £20,000.

The council put the cost of entering the competition next year, printing portfolios and officer time at around £700. "In the current economic climate it was decided that this cost was not viable," said a spokeswoman:

Bury Council, meanwhile, said it was scaling back its budget for Britain in Bloom and trying to enlist more support from volunteers. Oxford City Council also said it may pull out, not because of budget cuts but a lack of interest. Fewer than 100 entered this year against more than 600 in 2009.

RHS community horticulture manager Stephanie Enyon said councils running Bloom in the more traditional way by taking it all on themselves were having problems because of vanishing grants and dwindling corporate sponsorship.

"They need to look at engaging volunteers, friends groups or historic societies and becoming enablers and facilitators instead of doing everything," she suggested.

Enyon said while some councils were quitting, others such as Wigan and Crawley were newer entrants and were involving communities far more.

Another approach was being taken in Westminster (HW, 7 October), where contractors were entering on the council's behalf because victory was seen as a "feather in their cap", Enyon said.

Continental Landscapes senior contracts manager Steve Mills said: "We entered Westminster because it didn't have the money. It cost around £500 in paperwork and taking judges around sites and we worked closely with the parks department.

"We did it because we are proud of our work and staff and this is a way of acknowledging them. If we didn't enter last year and next it would be like throwing away all that previous effort."

Who should pay?

Sid Sullivan, parks consultant

"It is becoming commonplace for Green Flag and In Bloom to be specified in grounds maintenance contracts as the contractor's responsibility. It should, however, be a shared responsibility. The easy option is to save the entry cost and spend it on depleted front-line services."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Be wary of unscrupulous clients who may look for loopholes to avoid settling up at the end of a job, Alan Sargent warns.

Living walls

Living walls

The benefits of green walls make them worth investigation by all green-space professionals, says Miranda Kimberley.

Business planning - improving productivity through training

Business planning - improving productivity through training

How to create a structured training programme for your staff to give your business a competitive edge, by Neville Stein.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

BALI National Landscape Awards 2017

Read all about the winning projects in the awards, run in association with Horticulture Week.

-Download the Digital Edition

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.

Products & Kit Resources

Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space

Read Noel Farrer