A cash-strapped council has been slammed for spending taxpayers’ money on replacing fresh floral displays with PLASTIC flowers in a bid to save cash.
Rushcliffe Borough Council forked out at almost £2,000 taking down picturesque hanging baskets in the upmarket Nottingham suburb of West Bridgford.
Workmen then replaced them with “tacky” artificial flowers which residents have criticised for not being “in keeping with the area”.
The authority is looking to plug a £1 million funding gap in it’s budget but the initiative,which took two months to approve, is expected to save them just £3,000 a year.
Resident Angela O’Neill, 70, today said the flower swap looked “cheap” and was “not very West Bridgford at all” .
She said: “I am not a fan of the plastic flowers at all.
“There are only a dozen or so baskets along the avenue so I can’t believe they are that hard to maintain.
“Plastic flowers are not very West Bridgford at all and are cheap and nasty-looking.
“Real flowers are much better.”
Butcher Barry Norton, 45, from West Bridgford, added: “It just looks cheap and tacky.
“If there’s ever a place for real flowers surely it is outside. I’ve never heard of anything so barmy.
“They say it will save cash but they’ve spent two thousand pounds just putting them in and when you think of the labour time and consultation time – it’s ridiculous really.
“It’s an absolutely potty idea, quite literally.”
Local florist Elizabeth McKenna, who runs Flowers by Susan, said: “Nobody in West Bridgford buys plastic flowers for their homes so why would they want them in their municipal areas.
“There won’t be any scent and there are also the bees and wildlife to consider.”
Friends of Bridgford Park, who promote the conservation, protection and improvement of a nearby park, said they were also outraged by the decision.
Chairman Linda Phillips said: “It is not in keeping with the council’s policy of a great place and a great lifestyle – it doesn’t reflect that at all.”
The pilot programme was agreed, without public consultation, in March and the flowers were planted in 12 hanging baskets along Central Avenue during the last week of May
Including installation, the artificial flowers cost £1,970 and would be taken down in the autumn and replaced every year if the pilot was to continue.
The council, which has an annual budget of around £10 million, has said the real flowers were costing at least £5,180.
Rushcliffe’s executive manager for neighbourhoods, David Banks, said: “Artificial flowers have improved greatly in their look and quality over the years and, unlike real plants, they are completely resistant to adverse weather and disease, plus their ongoing maintenance is considerably lower.
“So far we have been very pleased with the overall feedback, but the council acknowledges that this is a subjective issue and feedback will be taken on board for next year’s programme.”
The council added that it was not planning to enter West Bridgford into the Britain in Bloom contest.