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Local Lib Dems Push for Sustainable Planting

July 6, 2010 7:23 PM

A borough council working group is to meet over the summer months to recommend how savings can be made in the cost of bedding plants and which flower beds would be suitable for a trial with sustainable planting. Decisions need to be made by September in order to made any changes for next summer's bedding plants.

Cllr Julie Morris has long argued for a different approach to planting up the 2000 m2 of flower beds in parks, along highways and in cemeteries. Other boroughs have moved toward permanent planting which is drought-resistant and needs only a minimum of maintenance, but Cllr Morris says "Epsom & Ewell is really slow to modernise, preferring large blocks of annuals and then lines of winter pansies". A new grounds maintenance contract began this year and though there was some support for sustainable planting to be built into this new contract, it simply didn't happen. Now, understandably, the contractor is reluctant to make changes."

Cllr Morris wants the working group to find a flower bed, or two, where different planting can be trialled. She says "Lavender, as an example, can be bought in quantity quite cheaply. It needs minimum maintenance and with an annual clip will last many years. I just don't see how this can be more expensive in the long-term but just getting the ruling group to move in this direction has been very hard work."

The working group might also recommend that the council's bedding is not spread across three separate policy committees. The Social Committee deals with planting in cemeteries, the Environment Committee deals with planting alongside highways and the Leisure Committee deals with planting inside parks. The costs of bedding therefore falls within three separate budgets. Cllr Morris says "This is a ridiculous situation. How a member of the public could follow the decision-making process when it is so complicated and unclear is beyond me. The subject should come within the remit of just one policy committee, not three."