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Friday, 18 April 2014

Front Street planting disaster highlights need for council to get realistic

SO Northumberland County Council has come under fire from Prudhoe residents over its handling of a long-awaited planting scheme on the Front Street.

This isn’t surprising. Even if its workmen - as a press officer informed my colleague Robert Gibson too late for this week’s deadline - did indeed intend to reuse the spring flowers they tore out by planting them elsewhere, this certainly wasn’t the impression received by horrified passersby.

And of course there’s no excuse for making a mess of the place in the process.

The county council, it seems fair to point out, was between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, replacing seasonal plants just as they come into bloom seems illogical and wasteful in the extreme.

On the other, Prudhoe Town Council, which is paying for new perennials in Front Street tubs, has been pushing for action to be taken.

The real question is why the county took so long to do anything in the first place, given the scheme was agreed by May last year, with the expectation of a September start.

Likewise, why was the county’s maintenance of the previous scheme so sporadic that trees were left to die?

The answer, of course, as Coun. Lorna Garrett has pointed out, is that funding cuts have stripped the workforce to a minimum and the resources just aren’t there anymore.

It’s bad news. It makes life hard. And, to be fair, it isn’t the county’s fault - much of the reductions have been Government imposed.

Still, it would help if the authority would realistically assess what it can and cannot do, rather than aim high then under-perform, everyone would be better off.

By Robin Gilson
Published: March 15, 2012

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