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Halesowen pulls the plug on Britain in Bloom
1:57pm Tuesday 17th July 2012 in News
PLANS to enter Halesowen into the prestigious Britain in Bloom competition have been abandoned amid fears it would not make the grade.
The Chamber of Trade blames Dudley Council for failing to spruce up the town and its chairman Steve Fitzpatrick said they would have been “laughed at” if they had pressed ahead with the application.
He said he was “disappointed” not to submit the entry into the national contest which puts attractive towns, cities and villages on the map, encouraging visitors.
Chamber member and Cornbow Shopping Centre manager Eve O’Connor spearheaded the organisation of the planting with help from the town’s gardening club.
Engineering giant Sandvik was the main sponsor, donating £3,500 towards the cost of the floral displays in planters and hanging baskets, with contributions from Vale Retail, Harris Steel, Henn and Westwood, the Chamber of Trade and Friends of Huntingtree Park.
Asda has promised a donation and Cynthia Barrett sponsored two hanging baskets in memory of her late husband and son, while Stourbridge College students grew plants at their Leasowes Park garden for planting outside the parish church.
But Mr Fitzpatrick said although the planting was successful, Britain in Bloom judges would have marked the town down for its general appearance.
The town had been building up to entering the competition for six years and he said Halesowen had been “let down” by Dudley Council, whose officers had failed to make a site visit to see what facelift works were needed, such as painting street furniture and replacing old lampposts and uneven paving.
“We are trying our hardest in Halesowen to make the place look nice, because it is a lovely little town, but we just can’t get anything done by the council,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.
He was angry that weeds growing through the white chippings on the Husky Dog roundabout had only been roughly chopped off instead of being removed following complaints.
The chamber also had to persuade the council to pay for the watering of the plants because of lack of funds, after first being quoted £7,000.
“It was finally agreed the council would pay for the watering, but only for this year. Yet in Stourbridge, the council always pays and that’s not fair. Once again, Halesowen is treated second rate,” he said.
Councillor Shaukat Ali, cabinet member for regeneration, said: "Council officers have participated in a number of Chamber of Trade led meetings to look at a Halesowen's In Bloom bid but partners have decided that it will take some time for their scheme to develop to a suitable scale for entry. In all of our town centres we will continue to maintain existing plant displays."
He added that council money had funded the development of Somers Square, removal of redundant brick planters, provision of new seating and bins, the town centre flagpole project and improvements to husky dog island.