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Winners and losers as council expected to look again at where floral cash is spent

Active communities which commit to maintaining floral displays are expected to benefit from the lion’s share of the allocated budget.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has been told that there is a need to target reprioritise available resources.

And, at an environment committee meeting due to get underway in Craigavon tonight (Tuesday), the recommendation is that those communities which show real commitment will be the big winners.

Over the years the council has traditionally worked in partnership with local communities to deliver ‘In Bloom’ and ‘Tidy Town’ floral displays as part of various national campaigns and competitions.

These competitions have been designed to enhance civic pride, whilst encouraging cities, towns and villages across Northern Ireland to look their best, through beautiful plant and floral displays.

A number of sites throughout the borough have been very successful over the years as a result of the local community and council working together.

For instance, Loughgall, Richhill and Scarva are among those which have repeatedly lifted awards.

In a report going to tonight’s committee meeting, councillors have been informed: “Historically the three legacy councils delivered the concept of floral displays in a number of differing ways, ranging from small grant applications, community led initiatives, contractor delivery and council works. Floral bedding displays were often planted out as a result of community requests and involvement.

“Although many community groups worked very closely with council over the years to deliver floral displays, they tended to commit for a period of time before other commitments/priorities prevented continued participation. In such cases the maintenance and management of the displays was either carried on by council or removed and grassed over.

“This year a number of community groups and elected members highlighted inconsistencies relating to the standard of council contributions directly associated with the delivery of floral displays at differing site locations.”

A number of variations and inconsistencies relating to the delivery of floral enhancements have been described as “historical in nature” and, asa result of these, councillor officers looked at the various sites which were entered into the competitions.

The report adds: “Officers subsequently analysed the various contributions applied to the delivery of floral displays across the borough.

“One of the fundamental principles relating to the floral competitions, is that of community participation and the enhancement of civic pride. Whilst coouncil plays a large part in keeping communities clean and tidy, the addition of floral displays had been predominately led by local communities.

“If the borough is to be enhanced with floral displays in a sustainable way, both environmentally and financially, while maintaining maximum impact, then the involvement of local community groups, associations and members of the public is critical.”

Officers have proposed to ‘reprofile’ the current budget to increase the direct support to areas with active communities, while further extending sustainable planting, as a move towards a sustainable harmonisation of resources for floral displays.

Councillors have been informed: “These actions will in turn provide a fair and sustainable service delivery of floral displays throughout the borough.

“Council will continue to work very closely with local community groups to ensure their continued participation and maximise community involvement in the delivery of floral displays across the borough.”

Such a move – if agreed – could actually save the council in the region of £7000 in the next financial year.

If the recommendation is agreed, it will still have to go before the full council sitting at the end of February to be formally ratified.

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