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Friends of Victoria Park launch campaign to save flower beds from city council axe

Protests in the park, a petition, and a publicity drive are among moves being planned.

A friends group says it will fight plans to grass over 28 formal flower beds at historic Victoria Park.

A campaign has been launched to force Glasgow's parks department to reverse its thinking.

 Grass: 28 of the 59 flower beds that make up the park's central display could be lost
Grass: 28 of the 59 flower beds that make up the park's central display could be lost

Protests in the park, a petition, and a publicity drive are among moves being planned.

Friends of Victoria Park say they are refusing to allow the 'destruction' of the 130-year-old formal flower beds.

Glasgow West End Today revealed last month that Glasgow City Council had given the group an ultimatum.

Officials said volunteers either take on the planting - or the beds will be grassed over at the end of the season.

The loss would amount to more than 370 square meets of beds that make up the central floral gardens – out of a total area of 870 sqm.

More than 40 people attended the group's annual general meeting his week.

 Plans: the beds to be grassed over are outlined in red
Plans: the beds to be grassed over are outlined in red

They heard volunteers did not have the resources to take on the work.

Secretary Cathie Russell said the council needed to discuss other options and work alongside volunteers.

"Our reaction is that we definitely do not have the capacity within the friends … to take on this task.

"All that - and to have such a massive operation up and running in a few months. 

"We have been happy to volunteer our time in the park - as people in Friends groups do across the UK.

 Layout: an aerial shot of the flower beds early in the season. Photo by permission of Charlie Millar
Layout: an aerial shot of the flower beds early in the season. Photo by permission of Charlie Millar

"But volunteers should be there for some added value, not to replace the role of council workers in maintaining our parks."

The Friends claim to have the support of unions in protecting the jobs of ground staff.

Meanwhile, local councillors are raising their concerns with the city's Land and Environmental Services.

Cathie told members: "I would therefore appeal to the council leader Susan Aitken and all the elected representatives who have influence in this to call for a moratorium on this decision. 

"The timing is all wrong  - destroying the last bit of gardening that gets done in our park just as plans for the Charitable Trust that will seek new solutions and sources of funding attempts to get up and running."

 Resources: the friends groups says it lacks the means to care for the extensive flower beds. Courtesy of FoVP
Resources: the friends groups says it lacks the means to care for the extensive flower beds. Courtesy of FoVP

She added: The destruction of historic landscape features is something that needs more detailed consideration on all the impacts - on jobs, on the wellbeing of citizens.

"Have all the options been explored - for example using more perennial bedding that might be lower in maintenance."  

Victoria Park opened in 1887 to mark the Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The park and its formal gardens are designated a designed landscape by Historic Scotland - one of only a handful in Glasgow.

A classic episode of hit TV comedy Still Game was filmed in the park in 2007.

A council spokeswoman said earlier this month the authority was responding to the financial climate.

 Designated: the formal gardens are among only a handful of sites classed as designed landscapes in Glasgow. Courtesy of FoVP
Designated: the formal gardens are among only a handful of sites classed as designed landscapes in Glasgow. Courtesy of FoVP

"The council continues to face a number of financial challenges and is looking at innovative ways to not only improve, but also maintain, the condition of our parks.

"Victoria Park has a long and proud tradition of displaying good quality flower bedding and we're committed to ensuring this continues.

"However, the sheer volume of flower beds currently in Victoria Park makes it difficult for us to continually maintain them to a high level - a small reduction would still provide an impressive and sustainable display."

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