Islington council axes flower displays in parks

Blooming displays of flowers look set to be a thing of the past in some parts of the borough as the council cover plant beds in bark.

Islington Council has decided to drastically cut the number of floral displays in parks in as it struggles to find a further �18 million of savings between now and 2013.

The plans, which the council says will save �20,000 a year, formed part of this year’s budget which will go before the full council for approval next month.

Bark will replace the vibrant flower displays planted each spring and autumn at a total of 10 sites, while the plants at Canonbury Square and at St Mary Magdalene Gardens will be replaced with herbaceous which is much cheaper to maintain.

Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Lib Dem opposition, said: “For me this is yet another example of the council spreading doom and gloom, like with the cuts in Christmas lights.

“Colour makes a big difference to our parks and squares and the council is cutting them for very little savings. They should be cutting members’ allowances instead.”

The sites where the beds will be covered are Colebrook Row, Finsbury Square, Myddleton Square, Spa Green Garden, Wilmington Square, Compton Terrace, Gibson Square, St Mary’s Church Gardens, Thornhill Square and Thornhill Road Gardens.

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Tree maintenance in the borough will also be scaled down to save �50,000.

Last year, the Labour-run council cut hanging baskets in a number of areas to save �140,000 – months after Islington won gold in the London in Bloom competition. Businesses and ward councillors ended up stepping in with funding save some of them.

Islington Council needs to claw back �100million by 2015 to bridge a gap in funding from central government. It saved just over half of that in the 2010-2011 budget.

Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “Islington has received the largest cuts of any borough in London and we are giving priority to jobs for young people, building new affordable homes and free schools meals to make Islington fairer in tough times.

“As a result, some flowerbeds in parks and open spaces across the borough will no longer be planted up but mulched over to save money on maintenance.

“If residents or businesses would like to volunteer to tend any one of these green spaces as part of London in Bloom, we are happy to discuss this with them.”