No flower power as council cancels gardening contest

Hastings in Bloom competition has been scrapped
Hastings in Bloom competition has been scrapped

A POPULAR annual competition to bring out the best and brightest gardens and flower beds across town has been scrapped.

The Hastings In Bloom contest has been run by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) every spring since the mid 1990s with 10 categories for green-fingered hopefuls. Businesses, individuals, charities and streets were invited to submit entries and prizes were given out to honour the best displays.

But with the public spending cuts beginning to bite and HBC forced to take some tough decisions, it has been decided not to run Hastings in Bloom this year.

In a letter sent out this week, Virginia Gilbert, HBC head of amenities and leisure, wrote: “I am sorry to have to inform you the competition will not run this year. The competition absorbs a significant amount of staff time, particularly as it is increasingly dependent on the ability to find new sources of funding and prizes.

“This year there are several large projects, particularly the preparation for a new grounds maintenance contract for the borough which must take priority.”

It is not clear how much the competition cost the council but the annual bill for maintaining parks and playing

fields was put at £1.2 million in figures released as part of the Big Conversation survey.

Councillor Trevor Webb, cabinet member for leisure at HBC, said the council would look at bringing the event back next year if it was feasible.

He said: “It is with deep regret we’ve had to cancel this year’s Hastings and St Leonards in Bloom competition. It wasn’t an easy decision, but a necessary one in light of the recent budget cuts. We will however, take this opportunity to review the event to see whether we can relaunch next year.”

The Ore in Bloom competition, which is organised by a committee of gardening enthusiasts rather than the council, will run again this year - details will appear in the Observer.

Pictured: Blooms in Alexandra Park last summer.