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Grass grows under Felixstowe's feet

PUBLISHED: 12:36 07 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:04 03 March 2010

FELIXSTOWE has let the grass grow under its feet - and missed a golden opportunity to promote itself as a holiday town.

That's the view of a number of people who could not believe their eyes when they saw the unkempt state of the award-winning cliff and Spa Gardens, as they visited the town's golden jubilee celebrations.

FELIXSTOWE has let the grass grow under its feet – and missed a golden opportunity to promote itself as a holiday town.

That's the view of a number of people who could not believe their eyes when they saw the unkempt state of the award-winning cliff and Spa Gardens, as they visited the town's golden jubilee celebrations.

With more than 35,000 people packing into the resort for the 11-hour BBC Music Live festival, it was a fantastic chance to show off the town at its very best – and encourage them to come again in the future.

But those who wandered from Hamilton Gardens down through the cliff gardens to the seafront got quite a shock.

Weeds – some of them 3ft high – were found growing out of footpaths and rock walls; flowerbeds were overgrown; and the grass in the gardens was untidy and not freshly cut.

Thistles could be seen along a number of path edges, and in one place – at the corner of Cambridge Road and Hamilton Gardens – wheat was growing.

Old litter could be seen, too, in and under bushes. Some of it had obviously been there some time and had not been dropped by visitors to the festival.

In the beds outside the Town Hall, the wallflowers had gone to seed.

One resident told The Evening Star: "This was the best ever opportunity for Felixstowe to show itself off and everything should have been spick and span – the grass should have been cut that morning.

"Rubbish should have been cleaned out from under bushes, and the council should have co-ordinated its operations so that the tourism, gardens and contract services unit were all working together to put over the best image.

"It's a great shame for the resort when it is trying to attract families back and it should have made an extra special effort."

A visitor to the festival from east Yorkshire said: "I understand Felixstowe is trying to attract more visitors and everything possible should have been done to make the town look attractive.

"The flowerbeds looked tatty, the grass hadn't been cut for several days and there was rubbish strewn in the gardens."

But tourism chiefs said they had not received any complaints about the gardens at the resort, which last year won the Anglia in Bloom premier trophy and this year is in Britain in Bloom. Resort manager Valerie Donovan said: "We had a look and we didn't think there was anything particularly wrong.

"Everything looked OK. The grass had been cut and was not long, and there was very little litter considering how many people were in the town.

"The gardens are still being worked on at this time of year and not all the flowerbeds are fully planted."

It had been decided not to remove older flowers and leave bare beds, or plant new flowers, which might get trampled, and then cost thousands of pounds to replace, with such large numbers of people expected for the music festival.

The council spends tens of thousands of pounds on maintaining the resort's gardens each summer, with most work geared to the summer season.

One council source told the Star: "The grass would never be cut on a Bank Holiday morning – council tax-payers would not want to pay for that."

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