Planting funding to be withdrawn

COLOURFUL flower displays across North Somerset could diminish after it was announced thousands-of-pounds in funding will be withdrawn.

From next year North Somerset Council will no longer pay for the �40,000-worth of planting and bedding flowers it currently provides in the district.

In Portishead the council money pays for a huge amount of planting including 83 hanging baskets, 19 troughs and about 312sqm of planted bedding.

The decision to withdraw the funding has upset members of Portishead in Bloom, a voluntary group that works year-round to maintain the town’s other floral displays.

Portishead in Bloom publicity officer Chris Button said: “I am deeply upset by the news. The floral displays in Portishead are very much a part of people’s lives and they are also important to visitors to the town.

“Portishead in Bloom already carried out a great deal of fundraising to support the planting - I can’t see how it can increase sufficiently to meet the severance of support from North Somerset Council.”

In Clevedon, town council representatives will meet with unitary authority officers to discuss which areas of planting could be returned to turf.

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Councillor Linda Knott, who is also a member of the voluntary group Clevedon Pride that maintains planting in the town centre, said: “I’m not surprised. It now needs some consideration as to where we can make savings and who is going to do the work thereafter.”

In Nailsea, North Somerset Council only pays for 30sqm of planting in three planters and one bed - the remaining displays are maintained by Nailsea in Bloom.

The group’s chairman Martyn Davis said: “We won’t really notice the difference. I haven’t spoken to my colleagues yet, but I’m confident that we will take them on.

“We think it is important to people to keep the town looking attractive and colourful.”

A North Somerset Council spokesman said the funding for spring and summer bedding, as well as the associated maintenance costs of �190,000, had become unsustainable as the authority tries to make �47million in savings over the next four years.

The spokesman added: “We do realise this will have an impact and we will work with voluntary and community groups who may want to take on the planting and maintenance of flower beds.”

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