Estate gardens in Finsbury “vandalised” by Homes for Islington

Gardeners on an estate are up in arms after their efforts were “vandalised” by Homes for Islington (HfI) workers.

Members of the gardening club on the Finsbury Estate, off St John Street, Finsbury, are furious after their carefully cultivated plots were ruined by HfI, which manages Islington’s council housing.

They say its contractors destroyed years of hard work by hacking and pulling up shrubs, flowers and a young fig tree – and they have demanded compensation.

Gardening club member Alan Wilkinson said: “We took over maintaining parts of the estate in the first place because HfI’s contractors were doing such a bad job. They would cut back shrubs that should have been left to flower and arrive on site with young untrained lads to hack away at bushes – all unsupervised.”

Many of the plants were paid for out of the club’s own pocket and members want to be reimbursed. HfI agreed to leave the plots to the group two years ago and Mr Wilkinson added: “Some residents were initially worried that youngsters and dogs would destroy our work, but in fact it is HfI and their contractors that have vandalised it.”

The Finsbury Estate Tenants and Residents Association (FETRA) also blasted HfI for blowing thousands of pounds in cash secured from the Major of London on “shoddy” work on the estate’s other green spaces.

Rita Smith, of FETRA, said: “Instead of planting a few areas well and ensuring that they are properly maintained, HfI has gone for planting too many inappropriate plants of poorer quality spread over large areas of the estate, which they are not properly maintaining.”

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A spokesman for HfI said it has carried out 19 landscaping projects over the last year to improve biodiversity and the look of the borough’s estates. He added: “After speaking with residents, some problems have been identified with the planting on the Finsbury Estate. We are meeting with our contractors to improve ongoing maintenance for this landscaping.”