Published: 30 July, 2010
• WHEN it was first proposed we should have hanging baskets and floral displays in main shopping areas here in Islington, I was inclined to be a bit dismissive of the idea – “surely that’s something for the seaside, not for the inner city”.
However, when we actually got them I saw what a difference they made.
I saw how welcoming they made our streets look and realised I had been wholly mistaken.
In fact, as I realised during my year as mayor (just past) the flowers have been the most commented upon and probably the most widely approved thing that the Lib Dem council initiated.
They are popular with the public generally and especially popular with traders.
They encourage local shoppers and visitors by making our shopping areas look truly welcoming and cared for.
This may seem a frivolous thing to spend money on, but I am convinced that to abolish something that both raises morale and brings in trade is more, not less, important in these straitened times.
• I FELT compelled to write about the terrible decision to remove funding for the wonderful flowers that have been part of Islington life for the past few years.
During these years, people have dedicated time and effort to creating and maintaining these beautiful baskets, which have achieved such huge success in competitions in London and nationwide.
In 2004, Islington was awarded the silver award, yet, thanks to determination and passion, by 2009 not only did we achieve the gold award, we were overall winner in the London in Bloom section.
Britain in Bloom, where we won silver last year, is one of the largest horticultural campaigns in Europe.
We should be enormously proud and celebrate what a fantastic achievement it is for Islington to have been awarded these honours.
And as a result of these wonderful flowers, Islington has become a nicer place to live in.
Council investment in taking care of the area where we live encourages others to do the same.
To take away this funding will certainly mean less pride taken in our borough.
It’s the small things that make a difference to people’s attitude towards having respect for where they live.
Cutting the flowers from next year’s budget will have a massive impact on Islington in so many ways.
I really hope the council will reconsider its decision.
In the great scheme of things the amount of money these flowers cost each year is small change.
I understand that cuts need to be made but surely there are other options? To quote the council website: “This isn’t just about displays of summer bedding plants.
It’s about the many different ways in which we can all help to make our borough a more attractive place to live and work”.
So come on, Islington.
Let’s find a way to save and protect the beautiful flowers that make our borough stand out from the rest, one where all residents are proud to live.
• IT is shortsighted of the Labour council to cut the budget for the wonderful initiative of hanging baskets in Islington.
In the second most densely populated local authority area in the UK, the flowers are a welcome sight in summer.
Sitting in Islington Green or walking along Upper Street and Essex Road, it is wonderful to have the flowers softening the urban street scene.
I am also sure that the pleasant sight encourages people to shop, eat and drink for longer in the area.
At less than £40,000 why can this not be continued?
• HANGING flower baskets in our streets are just the kind of thing local council taxpayers like to see their money spent on.
So why cut them?
It seems a cynical ploy by Islington Council to show it is cutting costs in the most visible way possible and yet there are many aspects of council expenditure that are way more extravagant, which we don’t see and wouldn’t miss.
Such as the gold-plated pensions of top council officers.
Cut them back and no one would notice their loss.
It is the worst kind of politics to cut back frontline services so as to blame central government when there is a lot that could be cut back in council backroom offices.
Islington Taxpayers’ Alliance