‘cutbacks will affect volunteers’

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FEARS have been raised that cutbacks at Scarborough Council will place too heavy a burden on the shoulders of voluntary groups such as Filey in Bloom.

As part of a recent restructuring exercise, the former parks and countryside services department was brought under the control of environmental services, with former parks chief Roger Burnett reportedly seeing his own budget slashed.

The popular horticultural expert, who has done much to promote the borough’s success in both Yorkshire and Britain in Bloom, was appointed community environment officer.

Filey in Bloom chairman Cllr Marion Wright said various groups, including the Friends of Filey Parks, had been disappointed not to have been kept up to speed with the changes.

“They left us all in the dark,” she said.

“I understand Scarborough Council has to save money, but we as volunteers are already putting our own time and money into fundraising and if the council is not careful, groups like us will start folding.

“We’ve had such good support in the past and we were told we weren’t going to see any changes, but we’ve already seen them.

“There’s the lack of contact, and then who do we go to for financial support for things like judging? Is the council still going to replace plants or will we have to do it ourselves?

“They say they’re still going to support the Bloom and the Friends groups, but there’s a much smaller budget so there’s a limit to what they can do.”

Steve Reynolds, Scarborough Council’s environment manager, said the changes were organisational and the council remained committed to supporting the In Bloom and Friends groups. “Key officers within the parks departments will continue to carry out support work and Roger Burnett, as community environment officer, is taking the lead in co-ordinating the activities of such groups and the voluntary sector generally, so we will still have the benefit of his expertise.”

However, he added: “As a local authority, we need to make significant savings in the future and to achieve that, we will need to work closely with the different groups as we will undoubtedly need to rationalise what we deliver on the ground.

“We are expecting voluntary groups to take a key role in the delivery of new and improved features such as flowerbeds, but this is not a radical departure from their current role.

“We simply need to work with them in developing new ideas and ensuring that these can be supported and maintained in the future.”

Mr Reynolds added that he would be meeting Filey in Bloom and the Friends of Filey Parks next week to discuss any issues they might wish to raise.