April 23 2014 Latest news:
by Paul Wright
Friday, January 17, 2014
Community gardeners praised by the Royal Horticultural Society have had hundreds of hours of volunteer work laid to waste after the council ripped up all of their prize-winning flower beds.
The Kingsgate Garden Club – made up of residents, shopkeepers, and volunteers across West Hampstead and Kilburn – won awards for its work in transforming sites across the area with its colourful flower displays.
Police officers from the Safer Neighbourhoods Team and even councillors had joined about a dozen volunteers planting 18 beds over four sites off West End Lane.
But their painstaking work, which began in 2011 and was recognised with awards from London In Bloom and the It’s Your Neighbourhood competitions, was ruined in less than an hour as Camden Council workers ripped up the flowerbeds as part of their winter clearance over the Christmas period.
Ajay Kumble, the garden club organiser, said he and fellow volunteers were disappointed but not surprised by the action.
“I was sitting in the park about a week before Christmas and one of the council workers walked past me with all our plants dumped in his wheelbarrow,” he said.
“This was a project to bring back some village pride.
“We’ve had continued problems with crime, litter and dog mess in the area and we hoped brightening the place up may help.
“But now we’ll have to start all over again.
“We were warned something like this could happen. So what’s particularly galling is that I have, on a continued basis, been in touch with the council and various other parks teams to make sure they were aware of what we were doing.
“But there seems to have been a serious miscommunication in the council somewhere.
“The CEO of London In Bloom was so impressed with our work during his previous visit he said he’d be coming back next month.
“Now I’m not sure we’ll have anything to show him.”
The group has now embarked on replanting the destroyed beds to undo the damage with the help of children from nearby community centres.
A spokesman said the council was investigating the issue.