How town and parish councils can improve the look of their area

It is a well known fact that local councils have seen their budgets dramatically squeezed in recent years. In fact, it was reported earlier this year that some local authorities may even be forced to declare technical insolvency within the next two years, and that a survey of councils in England and Wales led by the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) think tank had found that three out of four had either little or no confidence in the sustainability of local government finances.

The main reason that local governments have seen such a dramatic reduction in their budgets is because the amount of money that they receive from central government has been cut dramatically in the last few years, with the Department for Communities and Local Government one of the government departments that has been hardest hit by government cuts. In fact, The Economist reported earlier this year that local authorities spending on public services will be 22% less this year than in 2010.

So, with such massive cuts it is important that local councillors and the officers supporting them make sure that the money they do still have available goes to where it is most needed. Most people would probably argue that isn't to buying bulbs for local communities, and they're probably right. Local councils know this too, and more importantly know that residents will think that. They have therefore deliberately cut back on services like bulb planting and grass cutting in recent years to show the effects of austerity. But it is a bit of a token gesture that is made in order to prove a point. Buying some bulbs might cost a few hundred or even a couple of thousands of pounds at most, compared to millions of pounds being spent on various projects. But it gives the impression to people that money is being saved.  

But do issues like bulb planting and grass cutting matter? Well, in short, yes they do. It is crucial that people continue to take pride in their villages, towns and local communities in general. When people stop caring about how their local area looks then it is the first sign of social decay. If people think their local area doesn't look pleasant anyway, then they are less worried about whether or not they drop litter for example, and it has previously been reported that already around 62% of people in England drop litter, and that over 30 million tonnes of litter is collected from England's streets each year, which is enough to fill Wembley stadium four times over.

When people stop taking pride in their local area, it also means that they don't want to be there, and if they don't want to be there, visitors don't want to be there either. So, community spirit suffers, people's health and wellbeing suffers, anxiety and depression increases, crime and anti-social behaviour increases, tourism decreases leading to an economic impact on businesses and therefore the area as a whole, and so on. It is all a bit of a slippery slope. This might all sound dramatic, but think about it. Where would you like to take your family for a day out? To a park that has been looked after and cared for, with lots of bright, colourful flowers, or to somewhere not cared for, that is just grass and soil? And if you are more likely to choose the first one, you are probably more likely to spend money there in the local economy.  

But if councils cannot afford to look after the appearance of the area, then what can be done? Well, it is important to differentiate between different types of councils. These cuts have mainly affected county councils and district councils, but not so much the smaller parish and town councils. They are not responsible for the crucial frontline services like social care, roads, schools, but more of for the general upkeep of their village or town. And although they rely on a precept from the next level up of local government, they also quite often get funding from local volunteer groups and charity groups who take pride in their village or town and want to see it looking attractive. Often these groups will club together to help their local community. Local businesses will also often contribute financially, in exchange for sponsorship.

And thank goodness they do! Planting bulbs might seem like a relatively small thing, but it can make such a big difference. When you go to a town or a village, you really notice if they've made an effort with their flowers - it really brightens the place up and adds colour. This can be by the signs as you enter the village or town, on roundabouts, in parks, along the side of the road, in large pots in pedestrian areas. It shows pride in the area, it makes it look attractive and welcoming, and creates a general feed good factor. In short, it makes people want to be there.

When buying bulbs for their village or town, councils need to be sure that they are buying quality bulbs that will actually flower; otherwise they are just wasting money. We can advise councils of the best types of bulb to buy in order to achieve their desired goal, and also on how and when to plant them. Boston Bulbs Wholesale is a privately owned business with over 35 years experience of importing only the finest quality horticultural products throughout Europe and from farmers and growers all over the UK. For help and advice, just give us a call on 01775 769 333 or visit /.

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