Triple crown for city in Bloom awards

A �32,000 campaign to improve the street scene of St Albans has seen the city scoop three awards in this year’s Anglia in Bloom.

Announced on Tuesday at a ceremony in Colchester, St Albans came away with the gold award for best city, a special award for the best new entry and best local authority floral display in the Municipal Garden.

Three locations across the city were also shortlisted in the awards, which the council had entered for the first time in 10 years. St Michael’s Manor was shortlisted for the best industrial/best commercial area, Verulamium Park for best public/open space and Earthworks for best garden for special needs.

But it wasn’t just a day of success for St Albans as Redbourn was awarded the silver gilt award in the small town category and St Luke’s School shortlisted for the best young persons’ project.

Cllr Robert Donald, leader of the Lib Dems when they were the ruling party at the district council, said the results proved his party had been right to enter the city for the first time in a decade, despite the difficult economic situation.

“We took a big risk, choosing to enter during a recession, but it has come good.”

He said the overall motivation for entering the city had not been for the accolades or prizes but for the overall improvement it had made to the town centre.

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He said: “I felt that compared to other cathedral cities, we weren’t displaying ourselves to visitors and our residents as well as we could. We wanted to improve the environment and the street scene and show off St Albans in its best light. In turn, this increases tourism and enables people to see our heritage and the announcement on Tuesday shows we made the right decision.

“To get such high classifications in so many groups is wonderful and I hope that both residents and those recognised are encouraged by this.”

He added: “Improvements like this do lift people and we have had many appreciative comments from members of the public about the work.”

Recalling the beginning of the process, when the council met with residents associations and groups to encourage them to participate, Cllr Donald said they had been overwhelmed by the response. “People came together, picked up the projects and ran with it. It’s those members of the community too, as well as the council workers and officers, who are responsible for this success and they should be congratulated for it.”

St Albans Mayor Aislinn Lee, Mayoress Rose Bennett and Cllr Annie Brewster attended the award ceremony.

The Mayor said: “This was an exceptional day for St Albans. I kept being called to the stage time and time again to receive awards for our city.

“It was brilliant! I know that there was a tremendous amount of time and effort put into making this a success story, firstly the preparation for these awards and then setting out the plan. So whilst celebrating our success, I would like to thank all those involved with this strategy, which enabled us to win so many awards, not least, the gold award for best city.”

Portfolio holder for the environment, Cllr Daniel Chichester Miles, said thanks must be given to the parks and green spaces team who had worked so hard for the awards. He added: “St Albans is a city of which Hertfordshire can be proud.”

The campaign is not just about flowers and many areas are considered in the judging of locations, including environmental quality, community involvement, biodiversity and the involvement of young people.

George Dawson, chair of judges, said: “Community involvement seems to be the key to success, when everyone is involved the rewards are tremendous.”

Earthworks, located on Hill End Lane, said they were delighted to reach the finals in the competition.

The charity, which aims to provide opportunities for local people to undertake training and work experience outdoors, was shortlisted for the best garden for special needs category.

The site opened in 1995 and today boasts a large market garden, various ornamental beds and even a beach garden.

Administrator Fiona Gulliver said: “The site is very beautiful and much admired, particularly on our Open Days. The trainees, volunteers and staff work hard to keep the site such a thriving yet tranquil garden project.”