Gardens cash is a cause of confusion

Renovation project manager Corinne Cappell in the seafront gardens at Felixstowe.

Renovation project manager Corinne Cappell in the seafront gardens at Felixstowe. - Credit: Archant

SUCH confusion over the financing of the £2.76million project to restore Felixstowe’s seafront gardens to their former glory. It’s caused considerable debate on the Ipswich Star and Felixstowe Star websites – and is causing huge frustration among community leaders.

Spa Gardens will be funded by lottery cash.

Spa Gardens will be funded by lottery cash. - Credit: Archant

Many people say spending that kind of money on renovating gardens in a time of recession is simply wrong, and that the council should spend the money on other projects to help people in need, create jobs and improve the economy of the area.

Some have even suggested the cash should be sent back to the Government to help pay off some of the national debt.

The truth of the matter though is that the vast majority of the finance – £2.2million – is from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It’s the money those who play and lose on the lottery forfeit every week.

It’s not from the council’s budget, and it’s not from the Government.

And it can only be spent on the refurbishment of the seafront gardens – nothing else.

Suffolk Coastal applied for the money and succeeded in gaining it, but the lottery officials have to agree every single aspect of the project and every single penny that is spent, and they will not let any of it be spent on anything else.

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Yes, of course, the money could be sent back to Lottery HQ, but what would that achieve?

It would rob Felixstowe of the chance to have a very special and exciting project – a makeover which the council could never afford and we would not like to see our council tax increased to pay for.

It would probably end up being spent repairing some bit of Roman wall in a never-visited field somewhere miles from Leicester.

Only a small amount of the money for the project has come from the Suffolk Coastal council, and the rest from other sources.

From what I have seen of the plans, they really do look as if they will give the gardens a much-needed new look and some interesting new features, and make them a fun place for open-air events, to relax in, to walk and play, and explore.

What we need next is a proper action plan for the neglected southern part of the seafront – the other side of the pier – and a big effort to get that area refurbished to a similar standard.