Stockton pulls out of Britain in Bloom competition because of cash concerns

Stockton Council spokesperson admitted: ‘Due to unprecedented budget pressures, the council has to reduce its spend on horticulture’

Teesside will again be represented in this year?s Britain in Bloom competition – but a hardy perennial has pulled out because of cash concerns.

Eston?and Moorsholm have been nominated by Northumbria in Bloom to join 74 finalists in the prestigious national contest, which is run by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Eston, driven on by Eston Residents Association, will go for gold in the urban community category, while Moorsholm, inspired by the Moorsholm in Bloom group, will battle it out for the best village title. Both won silver gilt titles in Britain in Bloom 2013 and have bagged many plaudits in the past.

But Stockton?- which has regularly won regional and national ?bloom? titles – WON?T be joining them, despite winning gold and a special award last year. The council is pruning its budgets – and the Britain in Bloom entry is a victim.

A council spokesperson admitted: ?Due to unprecedented budget pressures, the council has to reduce its spend on horticulture. As a result, we are not in a position to compete at Britain in Bloom level this year and although we will continue to have impressive floral displays across the borough, they will not be as high a standard as those that have led to our success throughout the last 10 years.?

Stockton Council’s?Cabinet member for environment, Councillor David Rose, called it a ?difficult decision.?

He said: ?We are pleased we went out on a high last year by winning gold in the best city category and the Pride of Place Award, which was testament to the hard work of everyone involved. Our thanks, as ever, go to the residents and volunteers who have complemented the work of the council?s Care for Your Area team for many years to help to make the entire borough a greener place to live, work and visit. I hope many of them, with support from the council, will carry on entering Northumbria in Bloom.

?Although we won?t be entering the competition, our residents can be assured that our Care for Your Area team will continue its tireless work to maintain the borough?s appearance throughout the year.?

Anne Higgins, of Eston Residents Association, said Eston?s ?In Bloom? group designs, plans and funds Eston?s entry, and called it ?a great achievement and honour to be selected once again for the national finals.?

After summer judging, results will be announced at an awards ceremony in Bristol in October. Also representing Northumbria are Sedgefield, Sunderland, Durham and Great Whittington, near Hexham.

Stephanie Eynon, RHS community horticulture manager, said: ?This is a really special year to be a finalist because it?s the 50th anniversary of the campaign.?

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