Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Rose Gardens makeover by young people of the National Citizens Service

Last week I appealed in Focus 321 for volunteers to help maintain the rose gardens and the planters in Corporation Road and West Dyke Road. I was pleased to learn that young people from the National Citizens Service (NCS) have agreed at, very short notice, to carry out a makeover of the central bay of the rose gardens.

The rose gardens are situated in Lakes Avenue at the West Dyke Road entrance to Redcar Racecourse. Cars attending race meetings and car boot sales park alongside the rose gardens and in the adjacent seats. It was not a pleasant site for visitors as the picture shows. In spite of persistent requests for the gardens to be tidied up Redcar and Council is currently only attending to planted areas like this once per year.

This is unacceptable, hence my appeal for volunteers to adopt the rose gardens and the planters which I got installed on the approach roads in my ward that lead into Redcar town centre, This was done using funding from the £2000 per annum allocated to Councillors for environment improvements. The planters, in West Dyke Road and Corporation Road, now have horrible green shrubs plonked in them by the Council's neighbourhood team because they need no maintenance work. 

This totally defeats the object to brighten up the approach to the town centre, particularly the ones outside the Winning Post pub and alongside West Dyke Road car park. I should add the ones on the grass verges in Corporation Road and similar in Westfield Avenue were positioned to prevent cars parking and churning up the verges. But nonetheless they need flowers not drab green shrubbery in them. Over the past two or three years I have requested "proper" flowers - bright coloured bedding plants - to be paid for out of the Councillors fund, but there is a noticeable dragging of feet each time that always ensures the planting does not actually happen.

After having made my appeal in Focus, I decided to send in a complaint about the fact that these requests were being ignored. I also pointed out that I was receiving serious complaints from residents about the state of the rose gardens. I included the following comment I had seen on Facebook from a neighbour:

“This is (allegedly) the rose gardens. The council hasn't been near it for months. Bloody disgrace. Makes you wonder what they're wasting our council tax on. Rant over!”

 And an email I received from a resident of West Dyke Road:

"Now that the council appear to have abandoned the rose gardens which they devastated could they at least spray the best display of weeds in Redcar. This could result in killing the 2 or 3 remaining rose bushes but would be better than it is now. This presents a terrible view of Redcar to visitors to the racecourse."

Within less than 24 hours of my complaint and I am prepared to accept it was purely a coincidence I was informed that NCS had agreed to take on the rose gardens as a project for their young volunteers and carry out a  makeover of the central bay, starting this Monday 26th July.

Having then been consulted, I learned the Council was insisting that NCS planted low maintenance shrubbery in the central bed, albeit a slightly brighter version than the dreadful stuff in the planters down Corporation Road. I pressed very strongly to have a bed of roses included to respect the fact they have been known as the rose gardens for probably more than 70 years. In the end this was agreed. Gosh, the relief was enormous after the stress of having to keep arguing by email and insisting on being listened to.

I also recognise and appreciate the input in getting the NCS from fellow Ward Councillor Billy Wells.

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