‘Peterborough is now the city without colour’: Council to stop planting flowers to save £50,000 per year as budget cuts continue

Planters will be left empty and hanging baskets removed as Peterborough City Council says the decision will save £50,000 per year

By Adam Barker
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 11:49 pm
Green Party leader Nicola Day at the Central Park flower beds (image: David Lowndes)
Green Party leader Nicola Day at the Central Park flower beds (image: David Lowndes)

Peterborough City Council has stopped planting spring and summer bedding plants in the city, as part of ongoing cuts to the council budget.

The council said that the decision to stop planting seasonal bedding plants this year is because the local authority needs to “close a £27 million gap” in its budget.

Locations in Peterborough where flowers will no longer be planted include Central and Itter parks, Bishop's Road, Lido Gardens and in the city centre.

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Hanging basket brackets will remain across the city but flowers are set to be removed, as the council puts a stop to planting (image: David Lowndes)

Bid to save £50,000 each year

Councillor Nigel Simons, cabinet member for waste, street scene and the environment, said: "As part of this year's budget setting process we had to look forensically at every area the council spends money to close a £27 million gap in our budget.

“This included making savings which we wish we did not have to but were necessary to ensure we can still meet our statutory responsibilities, such as providing for the elderly and vulnerable adults and supporting children in care and families in crisis.

“The reduction identified in the Aragon contract means we are stopping our planting of spring and summer bedding plants in various areas in the city thus saving £50,000 per annum.”

The move to stop planting flowers comes as the council digs deep to plug a £27 million gap (image: David Lowndes)

However, the council said it will leave hooks for hanging baskets in situ in case future funding becomes available.

There will also still be spring and summer flowering bulbs across the city and grass and vegetation cutting will continue as normal.

Toby Wood, vice-chairman of Peterborough Civic Society, said he and the group are “deeply saddened” by the council’s decision and believes “Peterborough is now the city without colour.”

“In the past, visitors to the city have commented on how lovely flower beds are and how well maintained they are,” he said.

Flowers will not be planted in Central and Itter parks, Bishop's Road, Lido Gardens and city centre (image: David Lowndes)

“People initially judge a city on how it looks. If we are trying to promote Peterborough, this is certainly not the way to do it.”

Green Party ‘sorry’ to see service stop

Peterborough Green Party leader, councillor Nicola Day, expressed her concerns of the environmental impact the council’s decision could have and hopes volunteers and charities in the community can re-plant the flowers in the city.

“Not only do they make the city centre look more beautiful and appealing but they also offer pollination pockets in urban areas for bees and insects,” she said.

“We hope in the meantime that volunteer groups, community groups, charities and garden centres may come together to offer this service again for residents in the city centre. However, we do understand that such work comes at a cost.

“We are very sorry to see that this service will no longer continue but will do all we can to ensure that it is reinstated in some way.”

The council says that they have been working with groups of volunteers at both Central and Itter parks to assess how it can provide planting while still making savings to reduce the gap in its budget.

“At Itter park the Friends have planted up some shrubs in two of the old beds whilst at Central the Friends group have replenished some failing roses and replaced some old shrub planting with new,” councillor Simons said.

“They do not have plans to plant up any of the old bedding due to the cuts. However, the groups have sewn a new wildflower bed.”