PARTS of a town are being ignored while others are spruced up so a council can win a prestigious gardening competition, a councillor has claimed.
Councillor Roger Price, who represents the Portchester East ward on Fareham Borough Council, says some areas of Fareham are neglected while efforts are focused on the judges’ route for South and South East In Bloom awards.
Fareham has secured gold standard in the contest for the past decade and hopes to make it an 11th year when the results are announced in September.
Cllr Price raised the point at the last full council meeting after seeing council workers paying special attention, such as cleaning gutters and working on central reservations, ahead of the judges arrival earlier this month.
The town has its own Fareham in Bloom team, made up of volunteers, who work all year to assist the council and get the borough ready for the contest.
Cllr Price said: ‘I am not critical of the In Bloom contest or the work the volunteers do, what I am critical of is the administration putting everything into the In Bloom contest while everywhere else suffers.’
He said because the judges are taken on a specific route which is ‘neat and tidy’ they do not get a true reflection of the area.
Cllr Price said: ‘What I want to see is the rest of the borough brought up to the same standard otherwise we are creating a false impression that is not representative of the borough as a whole.’
Executive member for streetscene Cllr Leslie Keeble said he was ‘disappointed’ at Cllr Price’s claims.
He said a ‘small amount’ of additional labour costing the council around £6,000 was used ahead of the visit but the contest brings many benefits.
Cllr Keeble said: ‘This year the In Bloom volunteers put in over 10,000 hours of their time. That is equivalent to £74,000 worth of labour using the national rate of £50 per day. In addition, the entry attracted over £35,000 in sponsorship, kind and donations.’
Executive spokesman for leisure and community Cllr Connie Hockley said: ‘The whole borough is up to a high standard. For a couple of weeks we have to put a little bit of extra effort into the 16-mile route.
‘But we get so many benefits from it, not only in sponsorship for the wonderful roundabouts and displays but the public just adore it. It is very popular.’
Fareham in Bloom volunteer Geoff Thickett said that the team was simply following the rules of the contest, as do the other entrants.
Mr Thickett, of Pine Walk, Sarisbury Green, said: ‘The judges want to see the best and visit the best places. The council and the volunteers make sure that the route is the best.
‘The council does a very good job to prepare that route and we are in competition. We want Fareham to be the best and with 10 golds, then that clearly shows we are.’