Tired parks and lack of funding hits Cheltenham's floral blooms
THERE was a time when Cheltenham's gardens blossomed.
But the colour has faded, as well as its prominence in the finals of the Heart of England in Bloom.
And some campaigners have now hit out, saying it is because of tired parks and a lack of funding.
The finalists for the floral competition have just been announced for 2013, yet it is the fourth year that Cheltenham has not even been entered.
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That comes just 10 years after the town won first place in the national Britain in Bloom contest, following previous successes in 1985 and 1988.
Chris Ryder, chairman of Cheltenham in Bloom, said the recent recession had stifled the committee.
"The committee, together with Cheltenham Borough Council and Ubico, who we work closely with, decided not to enter again this year," she said. "We have decided to put our energy into enhancing what we have already got and working with local communities."
She said a lack of funds and volunteers had hindered the committee's efforts.
She said: "Our parks are tired. What's the point of entering if it isn't fit for the judges to view? We want to make sure the project is not just about creating a route for the judges, but changing the entire town.
"The 80s and 90s were great for the town when the authority was more flush with the finances. We need to start thinking now if we want to enter next year.
"We need volunteers to help with the ground and paperwork."
Councillor John Rawson, (LD, St Peter's) cabinet member for finance at the borough council, said: "The borough council does not give an annual grant to Cheltenham in Bloom, but we do help them in other ways.
"We frequently give them grants to help with particular projects to improve our parks and gardens.
"They are applying to us for funds for another project in the coming year, and obviously we will be as helpful as we can.
"In addition, our officers and park rangers work very closely with Cheltenham in Bloom's volunteers to make the most of our parks and gardens."
The In Bloom events reward the best decorated towns in the region and takes into account gardens, flower beds and other natural sites.