Golden streak for Spalding in Bloom at risk after shops and banks say 'No'
Spalding in Bloom organisers are worried that the town's four-year Gold Award winning streak is at risk from businesses backing out of the community effort.
It is claimed that a raft of businesses, including banks, estate agents and shops, have turned down the chance to put up hanging baskets outside their premises.
Organisers have more than 100 hanging baskets and brackets available which they are willing to maintain and water at a cost of £40.
But the take-up of baskets had plummeted this year, compared with 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 when Spalding in Bloom won consecutive Large Town Gold Awards.
Coun Angela Newton, chairman of the Spalding in Bloom committee, said: "We have won a Gold Award for our town in each of the last four years and trying really hard to do the same again this year.
"The committee believes that we all have to do our bit to make Spalding welcoming for residents, shoppers and visitors as we hear too often that 'Everything happens at Springfields Outlet Shopping and Festival Gardens'.
"For too long, we've heard that 'All the visitors go to Springfields and don't bother to come into Spalding itself'.
"But with a good display of hanging baskets and troughs, we can improve the shopping experience for people, all for just a modest outlay."
In winning gold last year, East Midlands in Bloom judges praised volunteers for brightening up Spalding Rail Station.
But it is the town centre itself that organisers fear judges may mark down because of the small uptake of hanging baskets so far.
Coun Newton said: "I'm disappointed that some of the larger companies and shops aren't able to make the town look better.
"None of the banks have come on board so far and it's bound to affect our Gold status because the town won't look as fine as it did last year."
Pete Williams, landlord of The Punchbowl which has won the Best Hotel/ Pub Garden or Display Gold Award for Spalding in 2016 and 2017, said: "We've had over 100 hanging baskets made up, but so many people have said 'No' to having one this year.
"Lots of the shops have dropped out, for one reason or another, yet shopkeepers are moaning about the state of the town centre and Springfields taking all the trade.
"Spalding in Bloom shouldn't be about a couple of people, Couns Angela Newton and Christine Lawton, running around and asking businesses to take part.
"It should be a community thing and we should say a huge thank you to those businesses that have said 'Yes' to having a hanging basket.
"But maybe it's time for the rest of businesses and the town to step up because £40 spent in the right direction can make all the difference."
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