Britain in Bloom fears after drought spreads

VOLUNTEERS have vowed to “carry on pushing” Belper’s Britain in Bloom campaign - despite fears the competition could be cancelled because of the drought.

In January, members of the town’s organising committee were delighted after Belper won a place in the prestigious finals for the first time ever, becoming Derbyshire’s only representation in the contest.

Volunteers worked tirelessly to secure the nomination having scooped gold in the East Midlands in Bloom contest for two years running.

Now there are concerns their efforts may have been in vain after it was revealed several town’s have pulled out of the competition due to the arid conditions.

The Environment Agency last week extended the drought zone up to Derbyshire and rescued fish from the River Lathkill after it dried up. The drought comes after two years of chronically low rainfall between October and March.

Belper town councillor John Nelson, who has been the driving force behind the town’s campaign, said: “We are in limbo because we don’t know whether they will be forced to stop the competition - which would be very disheartening. We have been making some real progress - everything is go, go, go and it’s all looking good - but we don’t know whether it will come to anything.

“The only thing we can do is carry on going until someone says ‘no it’s not happening’.”

The Belper in Bloom committee met last Monday - and have already arranged a route for the judges to travel along, spoken to dozens of shopkeepers and gardeners and printed leaflets.

Cllr Nelson has even previously predicted the town could win first prize in the large town category.

The town was due to compete against Dumfries in Scotland, Chichester in Sussex, Coleraine in Northern Ireland, Truro in Cornwall, Welsh town Rhyl, Knaresborough in Yorkshire, Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, Stone in Staffordshire and St Helier, Jersey.

A total of 72 other places, from more than 1,000 entries, from around the UK are also due to compete in different categories in the competition.

However, some towns are now reducing their hanging baskets because they cannot be filled from the mains, while one council is even appealing for residents to donate water from their own homes to revive dying plants.