DCLG told to stop stalling on Green Flag

Government faces renewed calls from industry leaders to quit stalling over issuing of new licence for Green Flag Awards.

Delays in awarding a Green Flag Awards license have been condemned - image: Keep Britain Tidy
Delays in awarding a Green Flag Awards license have been condemned - image: Keep Britain Tidy

Green-space leaders have renewed calls on Government to stop stalling on the new Green Flag licence as the latest delay prompted the Institute of Horticulture president to describe the tender as "yet another Government cock-up".

The announcement of the new licence was due on 12 September.

A Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) representative said last week: "We have no announcement. The evaluation has been underway and we have to make an announcement shortly. But we haven't a date, so it's watch this space. Parliament is in recess so I suspect it won't be until later in October."

The current contract for the award is due to expire on 31 October. Some 16 groups are understood to have taken an interest, with the RHS favourite to take over the licence on 1 November.

Institute of Horticulture president Sue Minter said: "We regret the delay, which seems to show Government incompetence. DCLG tendered the scheme but with a closing date of late August, which was over the Olympics and summer recess.

"The tender is so late it appears the Government has no interest in the future of a scheme that works only through the contribution of volunteers and park staff. It's a very unsatisfactory process and we want to know what is going on. This is yet another Government cock-up."

Consultant Sid Sullivan added: "I wonder whether negotiations with the preferred tenderer are causing problems - maybe they want more time to set up, more cash up-front from the DCLG or whatever.

"The current contract is due to expire two months after the deadline for tenders. It is both worrying and deeply concerning that the management of this crucial award is still in limbo.

"This echoes the original approach where groups had 20 days to prepare proposals and finance their bids, which is an impossibly short timeline to construct a measured and business-like assessment of the requirements and submit a meaningful tender.

"This continuing debacle strengthens an already overwhelming case for Government to hand this award over to a third-party charity to run and manage, but not the licence holder. They must stop prevaricating and extend the current licence.

"They should immediately set-up and appoint a free-standing charity to take over the tendering and management of this award with adequate finance to ensure it will succeed. No other measure will secure this critical sector-based award."

RHS community horticulture manager Stephanie Eynon said: "I do not have any information about where things stand. The tender process stated the decision was being made by the end of September." Current award licence holder Keep Britain Tidy and GreenSpace declined to comment.

People's choice

Keep Britain Tidy is calling on people to vote online for their favourite green space out of the record-breaking 1,424 Green Flag winners this year. Voting for the People's Choice Award winner closes on 14 October. See www.greenflagaward.org.uk.

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