A decision to stop planting bedding and hanging baskets throughout the area has left Falkirk Council with thousands of flowers – and no-one to plant them.
Councillors are now asking local community groups to come on board and help plant some of the £13,000 worth of bedding plants before it’s too late.
The council took the decision to no longer provide floral displays around town at the budget meeting in February – making a saving of £100,000.
However, by then staff at Kinneil plant nursery in Bo’ness had already planted around 112,000 ‘plugs’ to grow into the colourful flowers that traditionally brighten up public spaces.
The budget decision sealed the closure and mothballing of the Kinneil nursery, in the estate’s walled garden, but it will continue to operate until the annual plant sale, which traditionally raises around £20,000.
There are two full-time equivalent employees affected by the change, who will be redeployed into other parts of the service.
Now, council bosses have asked local councillors to find local groups willing to do the planting for them, in the hope that the bedding and basket plants will not be wasted.
The SNP’s environment spokesman, Paul Garner, said: “The revenue saving from this will be around £100,000 per annum and decisions like this unfortunately have to be made to protect services such as social care and education – something we will always aim to do.”
Members of the Labour group on Falkirk Council are unimpressed with the decision and worried that there are simply not enough volunteers to fill the gap in the service the decision leaves.
Councillor Allyson Black said: “As an important tourist destination our area should always look its best. Flower beds and hanging baskets add lots of colour for a relatively small cost.
“We can’t always rely on the good will of volunteers.”
She added: “What will the public be asked to do next? We already have some fantastic community groups out there but they can’t and shouldn’t do everything.”
Councillor Black is also concerned about what will happen next year as the council has confirmed it will no longer provide bedding.
However, Councillor Garner says many groups have already said they are happy to help.
He said: “We are in contact with some groups around the area keen very to take this role on, in the process of identifying others and continue our goal of community empowerment and instilling pride in our towns.
“I have also been in contact with a group called Friends of Bridge of Allan a group of volunteers who have now taken ownership of their flower beds for over ten years. They have kindly offered to give advice to any community groups.”
Any areas which are not adopted by the community, including roundabouts where safety concerns will not allow it, will be grassed over.
Councillor Garner said: “Wildflower meadows are a route we have encouraged in the past and will continue to look at.
“Even small plots of wildflower planting can alter the feel of a setting, so that the creation of a wildflower meadow as part of an urban greenspace can bring a piece of countryside into the town, creating much needed habitat for butterflies, bees, birds and small mammals.”
If any community groups are keen to take ownership of areas within their town, identified by Falkirk Council, please contact your local councillor.
Any remaining surplus plants will be sold as part of the annual plant sale in June.