CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save the threatened Manor Road Nursery have launched a petition in an 11th hour bid to gather support.
The decision was taken at a packed public meeting in St James’ Church Hall yesterday and a number of people stepped forward to volunteer to collect signatures – to be presented to members of Scarborough Council’s Resources Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.
Concerns were raised that the proposed move – to place the supply of plants into the hands of a private company and sell off the nursery land – was being rushed through by Scarborough Council and decisions were being made behind closed doors.
According to Cabinet minutes members recommended that the council should enter into a four-year agreement, worth up to £500,000, with Aldby Field Nurseries Ltd.
Yesterday’s meeting was organised by The Friends Of Manor Road group and chairman Dorothy Russell said: “I don’t see how we can possibly maintain the quality or standards.”
The decision has been called in by Cllrs Steve Bairstow and Peter Popple and it will be further investigated by the scrutiny committee on Tuesday.
Cllr Bairstow, who has 23 years’ experience as a landscape gardener, said the council’s Parks and Countryside Department was well-run and people should be proud of it. He added: “They enjoy the job and it shows with what they produce.”
He said the department produced 140,000 summer bedding plants every year and 20,000 of those went to Peasholm Park. He added: “They’ve made their mind up and we could be flogging a dead horse. I’ve not been a councillor for very long but the Town Hall is better than GCHQ for secrecy.”
Cllr Eric Broadbent, who supported the matter being called in, said the area had been “market tested” which was council shorthand for privatisation of the service.
Adrian Perry, the chairman of Scarborough and District Civic Society, said: “They want to make a giant leap into the dark – the only reason for that is that there is no going back.”
Cllr Janet Jefferson said she had been involved with Scarborough In Bloom since it started. She added: “In 10 years they’ve lost the heart and soul of our gardeners.
It is understood that several councillors will request that the matter will be heard in public at Tuesday’s meeting – it is due to be heard in private because of financial information about potential bids.