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Award-winning flowers will be pruned down

PUBLISHED: 14:09 15 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:11 14 October 2010

London in Bloom judging at Angel, with (L-R) Reg Harrison, London in Bloom judge; Cllr Mouna Hamitouche, Mayor of Islington; Mike Fitt, London in Bloom judge; Dominic Jones, chief executive, Business Design Centre; Christine Lovett, Angel AIM director

London in Bloom judging at Angel, with (L-R) Reg Harrison, London in Bloom judge; Cllr Mouna Hamitouche, Mayor of Islington; Mike Fitt, London in Bloom judge; Dominic Jones, chief executive, Business Design Centre; Christine Lovett, Angel AIM director

ISLINGTON has been named the best borough in London for its blooming floral displays – just months before its hanging baskets are axed for good. Islington has just clinched the much-coveted gold award in this year s prestigious London in Bloom competition

ISLINGTON has been named the best borough in London for its blooming floral displays - just months before its hanging baskets are axed for good.

Islington has just clinched the much-coveted gold award in this year's prestigious London in Bloom competition.

It is the third year in a row that the borough has won the cross-capital contest, which is on the look-out for colourful gardens, abundant hanging basket displays, and plant-filled community plots.

The judges even praised the London Borough of Islington for being a "model of best practice in engaging with and delivering the 'In Bloom' ethos".

But next financial year, the borough's hanging baskets will be no more because the new Labour council has decided to axe them in a bid to save money.

Because of Government cuts, Islington Council needs to save £7million this financial year and a further £70million between 2011 and 2014. It is estimated that cutting the hanging baskets will save the council around £140,000 a year.

This news that the council will cut hanging baskets while continuing to pay for projects such as the PR magazine IslingtonLife has prompted opposition Liberal Democrats - who held power until the May 6 local elections - to lambast the Labour administration.

Councillor Terry Stacy, leader of the Lib-Dem group, said: "Labour councillors are basking in the glory of another win for Islington in the London in Bloom awards while planning to rip all the flowers down next year.

"It would be the ultimate irony if Islington was also a winner in the Britain in Bloom competition next month. I wonder if the judges know that our Labour councillors plan to take us from 'Islington in Bloom' to 'Islington in Gloom'."

But the Labour leadership has defended its decision to axe hanging basket spending. Councillor Paul Smith, the council's deputy leader, said: "I am proud of our London in Bloom award. It is a testament to the hard work of many people and to the last year of decent funding for Islington by a Labour Government.

"We now face a Tory Lib-Dem Government that is cutting millions of pounds from our borough. That is why we can't pay for hanging baskets."

Not all Islington's hanging baskets will go because some of them are paid for by businesses and community organisations rather than Islington Council - and the council is hoping that they can be persuaded to pay for even more of the displays next financial year.

As well as winning the overall Champion of Champions category in the London in Bloom awards, Islington was particularly praised for the work that residents have done in developing King Henry's Walk Gardens into much-loved community growing plots.


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