Floral funding rethink to keep centre in bloom

Mark Cordell (Chief of Bid4Bury)
Mark Cordell (Chief of Bid4Bury)
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A VITAL tourist route in ‘floral town’ Bury St Edmunds risked becoming a flower free zone.

But Bury Town Council has decided to rethink its funding of Bury in Bloom after Bid4Bury’s chief executive Mark Cordell criticised its lack of consultation in deciding where its cash should go.

The council had agreed to give Bury in Bloom £6,000 but wanted it spent on projects outside the town centre.

But Mr Cordell told its finance committee last week: “I was extremely disappointed to hear the decision of the town council to remove funding for Abbeygate Street. It appears to be on the assumption that we’ll fill the gap, but that’s not going to happen.”

He explained that business improvement districts, like Bid4Bury, are about businesses providing funding to a central body which can legally only be spent on additional services and products.

They had provided £11,000 this year, with a provision for £6,000 running costs over the next three years to provide additional planting in the town, but planting in Abbeygate Street already existed.

Bury In Bloom campaign manager Julia Rackowe told councillors: “Abbeygate Street is an important tourist gateway.

“Bury in Bloom won’t be able to underwrite basket trees in Abbeygate Street without support.”

She said it would cost £2,520, plus the provision of plaques and sockets for the trees to go in and that it had been ‘impossible’ to get businesses to sponsor them. She felt many businesses thought Bury in Bloom was a borough council initiative, rather than a charity.

Mrs Rackowe said they had done a lot of work with Havebury Housing and felt planting in areas of social housing was important but she said the town centre was of key importance.

Cllr Paul Simner suggested the committee looked at splitting the £2,520 cost of Abbeygate Street planting with Bid4Bury, which Mr Cordell accepted, but a final decision cannot be made until the end of March. The committee cannot reconsider the matter until then without the complication of rescinding its previous decision.