Award-winning head gardener’s job at Abbey Gardens faces the axe to save council £20,000

Abbey Gardens head gardener Steve Burgess
Abbey Gardens head gardener Steve Burgess
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The job of the award winning head gardener at the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds is under threat as a council looks to save nearly £20,000.

The roles of Steve Burgess, assistant operations manager - informally known as head gardener, and Jean Pickering, senior ranger, at the gardens are set to be axed.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council plans to create a single park manager post at the gardens as it merges the gardening and ranger teams under a single management structure.

Mr Burgess won the Mike Ames Award at the Anglia in Bloom Awards in 2014 for his 30 years of service to the town.

Concerns have been raised at the move by groups involved with the Abbey Gardens which has scooped numerous accolades and is major tourist attraction for the town.

Melanie Lesser, co-ordinator of Bury in Bloom, said: “We understand the ever-pressing need for the council to make savings. We also think it makes sense for there to be one unified team at the Abbey Gardens. However, we really feel for the two team members who will be affected by this change. Both are longstanding servants of the town who have helped Bury in Bloom achieve great success over the years.”

Sophie Roebuck, chairman of the Abbey Gardens Friends Group, added: “I was so shocked to hear about it. It’s extremely distressing. If they want to save money, perhaps they could do it some other way.”

A 30 day consultation with staff is currently underway.

Cllr Joanna Rayner, cainet member for leisure and culture, said: “Our gardeners and our rangers in the Abbey Gardens currently work as two separate teams. We’re bringing them together under a single management structure. The day to day service and high standards of the gardens will be maintained.”