COMMUNITY help to spruce up Halesowen town centre in time for its first Britain in Bloom inspection has snowballed, with drab and derelict areas being transformed.

People power – and help from Dudley Council – has resulted in an army of volunteers painting benches and bollards, planting litter picking and clearing rundown areas.

Eve O’Connor, chairman of Halesowen in Bloom, said “guerrilla” gardeners are transforming the town centre and business owners are cleaning and tidying up their frontages.

New owners of the former George pub – who plan to open a tea room - have weeded the disused car park and put out hanging baskets.

An overgrown area at the bottom of Church Lane has been cleared and the council has installed litter bins and benches.

Mrs O’Connor said: “It’s been really brightened up and made lovely.”

She said the support over the last few weeks had been “phenomenal”, adding: “I am absolutely over the moon with the successes and environmental improvements throughout the town and also with the bringing together of people.”

The organising committee has launched a Facebook page and a Twitter account which has helped galvanise support, with before and after photographs highlighting the improvements which have made made ready for judges' tour of the town on Monday July 21.

Committee member John Young said: “People seem to be seeing things are happening in the town and are responding. It’s going great guns.”

But fundraising to pay for the makeover is still £300 short of the £5,000 target.

Mrs O’Connor said there was time for people to sponsor hanging baskets for £75 in memory of a loved one – with a card in their honour displayed in a town centre notice board.

She is also appealing for a last minute sponsor for the flower bed outside St John’s Church, who, for £250, can have their name and logo featured.

Meanwhile, Halesowen North councillor Hilary Bills is busy organising the Halesowen in Bloom family treasure hunt.

Ten imaginary plants have been created by local primary schoolchildren and hidden in shops and cafe around the town.

Families have a week to find them and complete their maps which will be available in the foyer of Halesowen Library from Saturday.

They should be posted into the treasure hunt box back at the library by 3pm Saturday July 19 ready for the prize draw at 3.30pm at the Victorian Fair stand in Somers Square, with books and toys donated by WH Smith for the winners.