turf luck for park flower beds as sbc goes for grass

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TOWNSFOLK will be shocked to learn that Scottish Borders Council has grassed over several flower beds in Wilton Lodge Park.

At least six areas of the town’s award-winning park have been converted to grass this week – a move which the local authority blames on an appeal for members of the community to take over being unsuccessful.

But the cost-cutting exercise has been fiercely criticised by local Councillor Davie Paterson. “I was confronted by an extremely distressed constituent who was very annoyed on Monday”, he told the Hawick News.

“It is appalling, because this is supposed to be the jewel in our crown and a mecca for both townsfolk and visitors alike to look at and admire.”

Scottish Borders Council says it has been working with a number of communities across the region to encourage greater involvement in town plantings, and “reduce the council’s direct involvement in the provision of floral displays.”

A spokesperson told the Hawick News this week: “Communities have responded by taking on the maintenance of beds or changing the nature of town plantings by introducing shrubs or closing beds by grassing them over.”

But Community Councillor Kevin Ferguson, chairman of Hawick in Bloom, says they did not decide the fate of any beds when approached last year, commenting: “We were given a list of options on what should be kept or not but we felt it was not our job to tell them where the axe should fall, and deliberately avoided any decision.

“But we also felt we didn’t have the resources to take over any flower beds, and to try and get the public involved more than once or twice is a big undertaking.”

The small sub-committee, under the umbrella of Hawick Community Council, is already responsible for maintaining planters on the High Street, the Station Bridge, the flower bed at Haughead near Emtelle, as well as in Allars Crescent and the Roond Close. But according to SBC other towns are blooming on their own, the spokesperson adding: “The council is keen to engage with people in Hawick to develop involvement in the town’s plantings.

“Some groups are exploring gaining sponsorship for various flower beds, while others are working with local schools. Local involvement has proved to be very successful in a number of towns which have won recognition for their town plantings.”

But Councillor Paterson added: “I just wonder where is it all going to end, are we going to grass over the rest of the park for next year and do away with all the shrubbed beds in the Scottish Borders?”

Anyone wishing to get involved can get more information by contacting Neighbourhood Services on 0300 100 1800 and asking to speak to someone about involvement in Town Plantings.

n TALKING Point, page 9