RESIDENTS of a picturesque seaside town say it is being ruined by the “cost-cutting” council.
Locals in Tenby, southwest Wales, believe the changes made by Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) to the public gardens overlooking Castle Beach have led to the “uglification” of the town.
Castle Beach was voted the best in Britain in 2019.
Changes to the Rotary Gardens near to Tenby harbour are being introduced by the council in an effort to “reduce costs” – the alterations mirror the stance taken by the authority a couple of years ago at Paragon Gardens which overlook South Beach.
At the time, the PCC told Town Council members that costs to maintain the public garden would need to be reviewed.
Councillors were told that PCC was no longer able to maintain floral displays across the seaside town because of cuts in its finances.
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The bottom level of the Paragon gardens were under threat from being closed off completely, unless PCC and the Town Council could come up with a scheme that needed no maintenance.
It was agreed that a “colourful stone scheme” would be introduced to replicate the floral beds.
Currently, the changes to the gardens along Castle Beach have been described by the Town Council as a “work in progress”.
One resident who lives nearby told The Narberth & Whitland Observer: “Who is responsible for this ugliness in a conservation area?
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“Have you seen the hideous shiny galvanised metal racks in the Rotary Gardens?”
Correspondence from other residents sent to the Town Council and Neil McCarthy, the PCC’s environmental services operations manager, stated: “We feel that this plan leads to the uglification of Tenby”.
It says: “We are writing to say how very disappointed we are at the work being done on the gardens by Castle Beach.
“The shrubs have been ripped out and are being replaced with concrete and steel structures which are apparently going to have hanging baskets of flowers.
“We understand that this work is to save money on the watering of what had been the existing garden.
“It seems that no account has been taken of the aesthetic degradation of the garden which, for residents and visitors, has been a popular place to sit and stroll.
“We would argue that this plan is also an environmental degradation.
“It will severely diminish the soil and mean that wildlife habitat is lost.
“Meanwhile the planned hanging baskets will still need watering.”
It added: “Why has thought not been put into an environmental plan where coastal plants, salt-tolerant, environment-friendly and drought-resistant could be nurtured?
“Such planting would arguably enhance the area and lead to an environmental gain – including a reduction in water consumption.
“We feel that this plan leads to the uglification of Tenby and it seems to be of a piece with, for example, the work done on the gardens at the Paragon where plants and hedging have been replaced with a plastic membrane and stone.
“Hedging – with no maintenance cost – is currently being ripped out of the bank opposite the bus stop on Park Road – again habitat is being lost, the work has a financial cost and what are the aesthetic and environmental costs?
“Tenby already has a surfeit of begonias and petunias and other annual bedding plants in play school colours.
“Could you please start thinking about sustainable aesthetics and biodiversity?”
Town clerk Andrew Davies told councillors he believed Mr McCarthy was going to write back to the residents.
The mayor, Cllr Samantha Skyrme-Blackhall, said she had spoken to the neighbours about the work and had tried to explain that PCC has a plan to try to reduce costs and be more environmentally friendly.
She suggested the Town Council write separately to the authors of the letter saying that they shared their sentiments regarding sustainable planting and that everyone is looking for a more sustainable solution to the town’s green spaces.
The mayor said: “Concerning the Rotary Gardens, there was no value in the soil that was removed and this change of direction to a more sustainable approach will mean that PCC will not be pumping 120 gallons of water a day onto just this one garden.
“It is a work in progress and eventually it will look lovely.”
The town clerk added PCC were also looking at planting daffodils in the beds to reduce the “off season” impact of the basket rails.
Earlier this month, residents of Sandown on the Isle of Wight said their once beloved seaside town is now one of the “saddest places to live”.
Local resident Sheelah Stephens has complained about its run down town centre, with empty shops and hotels.
On the flip side, residents in the seaside resort of Broadstairs say their town is one of the “coolest” places to live.
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Elsewhere, the cheapest seaside town for a staycation was revealed earlier this month.
It turns out that Hythe in Kent takes the crown for the most affordable holiday town in the UK, according to the holiday website Independent Cottages.
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