Kerr, who says he is keen to bring parks and gardens up the agenda within the HLF, said: “If the industry was to say that it needed money to improve training to make sure the great heritage gardens are -preserved, we’d look at that very seriously.
“Wherever I go, people say they are not getting enough skilled people coming into horticulture. Our great gardens won’t survive without a push. This should be on HLF’s agenda — all we can do is say yes or no to an application.”
But HLF representative Katie Owen confirmed that January 2006’s award of £721,000 to 17 organisations led by English -Heritage to run the Historic & Botanic Gardens Bursary Scheme was an unrepeatable grant.
She said: “We’ve given out all the money under that scheme. It is a four-year project that’s almost -finished its second year. I don’t think we will be able to repeat our bursary project again. We have
huge pressures on our budget now.
This was always designed to be a one-off scheme.”
The scheme, which began in July 2006, started with 12 gardens and 14 trainees. The gardens used
for placements include Chelsea Physic Garden, the Eden Project, Osbourne House, Blickling Hall and the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.
HLF budgets are falling because of reallocations to the 2012 London Olympics. It will hand out £1.9bn in the next 12 years but average annual allocations will drop from £325m last year to £180m in 2009. Funding for parks will drop from £22m this year to £20m next year (HW, 26 July).
But Kerr said the Olympics were not a threat. “Most parks money is ring-fenced. Although our money will go down because of the Olympics I’m content with that decision. We still invest more money in parks than anyone else.”
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