Poll: Should wildflowers replace traditional blooms in north Norfolk’s council beds?

Wild flower beds at North Lodge Park, Cromer.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Wild flower beds at North Lodge Park, Cromer.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has defended its policy of replacing traditional bedding plants with wildflowers in some areas.

A bee flying around the wild flower beds at North Lodge Park, Cromer.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

A bee flying around the wild flower beds at North Lodge Park, Cromer.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A spokesman said the switch was much better for bees and butterflies and was not primarily a cost-cutting measure.

But the move has been criticised in Mundesley where seeds have failed to germinate, leaving usually-colourful beds bare, apart from weeds, in a prominent tourist area.

Mundesley resident Janet Munro, who cares for the seafront landmine clearance memorial, said the area looked 'a right old mess' this year compared to the carpet of carefully-tended colour which usually greeted summer tourists.

'We should have properly maintained flower beds. Visitors are now just seeing lots of weeds,' said Mrs Munro, of Marina Road.

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She said she had written 10 days ago to Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of North Norfolk District Council, asking for an explanation, but had not received a response.

An council spokesman said this was the third year that wildflower seeds had been planted in some beds, but the first time Mundesley had been included in the programme.

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Beds in Happy Valley and North Lodge Park, Cromer, and Holway Road in Sheringham, had first been sown with wildflower seeds in 2011 and were now established, colourful and attracting insects.

But unfortunately, the freezing winter and spring, followed by a dry summer, had meant that the Mundesley seeds had not grown.

There are similar bare patches in Cromer churchyard which has also been sewn with wildflowers.

'The reason wildflower seeds are sewn is for the environment, in particular to grow nectar-providing plants to encourage bees, butterflies and other insects which, in turn, provide food for birds,' said the spokesman.

Traditional bedding plants, such as marigolds, were 'hopeless' for insects which couldn't reach the pollen through the multi-blooms.

'We have had letters from people congratulating us on taking that initiative,' he added.

The council had a £300,000 per annum contract with Kier for grass cutting, bed and borders, and open spaces maintenance.

The wildflower initiative saved £4,000.

The district council would be reassessing the Mundesley situation, in consultation with the parish council, to decide a way forward.

Wyndham Northam, district and county councillor for the area, said he could not understand why Mrs Munro had not received a reply to her letter from the council's corporate director Nick Baker which had been sent the day after hers was received.

Thanks to the goodwill and work of councillor Barry Smith and friends, bedding plants had been placed in the border around the memorial last Friday, he added.

Mrs Munro thanked the 'garden fairies' who had planted pansies around the memorial and said she sympathised with the idea of planting wildflowers.

But she added: 'They have their place, on a bank or meadow, but that place is not on a green like the one in Mundesley.'

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