Wisbech in Bloom award winners say ban on winter planting by Fenland Council could threaten town’s hopes of success in coming year

Celebration time for Wisbech in Bloom after a stunning set of results in 2018. But there is a doubt

Celebration time for Wisbech in Bloom after a stunning set of results in 2018. But there is a doubt for the future after Fenland Council announced a end to winter planting this year. Picture: ROGER RAWSON - Credit: Archant

Award winning Wisbech in Bloom claim a money saving decision by Fenland Council not to put out winter bedding plants could threaten future success.

The volunteers who turn out throughout the year to keep the town looking spick and span say they only found out about the council’s decision at a photo shoot to celebrate recent successes.

Penny Stocks, one of the founder members of Wisbech in Bloom said: “We were devastated to hear of the council’s plans.”

She said this was surprising “given that the award we had just won demonstrates how floral displays and good environmental practice can play an important part in the vitality and improvement of town and city centres.”

Mrs Stocks said: “We had thought that we had a good working relationship with Fenland District Council and we were bitterly disappointed to hear this news through a third party.

“If we had been aware of this earlier in the year then we could have considered increasing the amount of sustainable planting in the gardens to limit the need for as many bedding plants.

She said the celebrations for this year’s success were short lived when volunteers learnt that Fenland District Council plan to cancel the winter bedding schemes throughout the district as a cost saving exercise.

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She said it would mean that Wisbech Crescent Gardens and St Peter’s Church Gardens will be devoid of flowers until the end of next May.

Mrs Stock was among volunteers and Fenland District Council Parks and Open Spaces staff who gathered in St Peter’s Church Gardens to celebrate winning a gold award in the Britain in Bloom finals, business improvement district category.

Wisbech also topped the category beating off competition from Leeds, Paddington, St Austell and Falkirk.

Brian Massingham, chairman of Wisbech in Bloom, said: “This is the most successful year that Wisbech in Bloom have ever had.

“To win this award, following on from the success of the Anglia in Bloom competition is just fantastic’.

He thanked everyone who has given sponsorship, donations and their time to make this possible.

Wisbech will feature in a 30 minute programme on BB2 next spring as part of the second series featuring groups who participate in the Britain in Bloom competition.

Fenland Council, who are thought to have ordered the plants and will not now put them in, have been asked to comment.

Mrs Stock said she, too, was awaiting a response from Fenland Council.