Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blooming Redbridge

For some time now one of our readers [MK] has been trying to get Redbridge Council to introduce an additional category for Back Gardens in the Annual Redbridge in Bloom competition. She has now given up.

She could not elicit any response from the Director of the Leisure and Culture department and so contacted Lee Scott MP, who wrote on her behalf. This did get a response but not to her. He said “back gardens could not be included because as far as Redbridge in bloom and improving the environment went they were not important as they could not be seen!”

Really! Other authorities do not have a problem. A quick search on Google brought up 34,000 entries: [These are just the first four]

The contest to find the best back garden, front garden and small garden area was revived this year and attracted a superb response. Canterbury.

Best back garden - focusing on the creative use of colour and plants using trees and shrubs to give height and interesting focal points.

Any back garden maintained by the residents. Limited to the first 50 entries.

Best Back Garden (less than 2000 square feet), Best Back Garden (over 2000 square feet).

Cllr Mrs V Cole is not happy. She said: “To say I believe he is wrong, is an understatement. Council have various duties laid upon them, other duties we take up because there is a need; however with both statutory/mandatory duties they vary in how complex the task is to deliver a service - because a task is difficult, or the outward benefit is not instantly seen, do we then stop doing it? NO, we don't.”

Perhaps our council are frightened that the judges will see something like this:
a 'bungalow' in a back garden


  1. You are mistaken officer, that is a 'garden shed' see the pampered flymo in the corner? Occupied? well someone had to make sure no one breaks in!

  2. O-o-o-oh, so cynical! It's simply affordable housing.

  3. Granny flats are a curse that are now plaguing our borough. The owners should have to pay increased council tax. But, I would like to see a change in legislation so that back gardens are green belt and that all buildings (inc. those under 3metres) need planning permission. A friend of mine now has one next door to him, the sanctuary of his garden has now gone. He either has to endure an extractor fan blowing the smell of food in his direction or constant noise. Although I hate to say it, these out-buildings are predominantly built by the Asian community who do not value green space as much.

  4. I knew I had seen it somewhere - all these old archives I have, have there uses - should I extend into the Back Garden? - Woof Woof!
    From the Telegraph & Argus 22nd July 2000: just before the floods - should have built an ARK me thinks woof woof!
    Kennel puts family in the doghouse
    From the Telegraph & Argus, first published Saturday 22nd Jul 2000.

    A family must seek planning permission to allow a dog kennel in their back garden.

    Bradford council planners are insisting that Simon Jeffrey, of The Mallards, Silsden, gets permission for the large wooden shed and fence which he has already set up in his garden.

    A Bradford council planning spokeswoman said Mr Jeffrey was seeking retrospective planning permission because the building had already been constructed.

    "The house is in a conservation area, near to the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and as a result the kennel did not have permitted rights.

    "The application could be dealt with through delegated authority - that is by the planning officers - if there is no objection," she said.

    She said officers were now waiting to see if there were any objections from neighbours or the town council.

  5. Dear MK – may I quote the (in my opinion) totally confusing “Rules” for the Redbridge In Bloom ‘exercise’, or at least a portion of same?
    “It is important to have a variety of habitats including areas for shelter such as long grass, shrubs, logs, a tree or hedgerow and, food sources in the form of nectar rich flowers, native plants and plant species that flower in different seasons to provide food all year round. Trees, especially fruit trees grow well in patio pots, window boxes could contain native wildflowers and herbs and, if possible, provide your garden visitors with a little water to drink.”
    Back gardens are not specifically mentioned in the RIB Rules, however, this section above, surely, suggests secluded habitats – not many of us have huge sprawling Front Gardens in this day and age! Or do we?

    I enclose my judging forms from The Royal Horticultural Society (in an email to B21) – Back Gardens, also are NOT specifically mentioned, however, good practice as well as common sense dictates (suggests for the timid), that the complete is the order of the day – that is any area and indeed all areas can be included. RHS Judges are snooping souls always on the look-out for that one minor point in order that they can separate many items of excellent quality.

    I fear Officials in your case are taking everything much too literally, and even dismissing specialized gardens, which may be tucked away, such as disabled gardens, school allotments, education ability gardens, specialist herb gardens and, indeed, gardens which may hold a National Collection of a specific species, which invariably have to be in a Back Garden for a variety of reasons.
    I would take up your fight with the Council – but do I have the time? Better for you and B21 to take up this abysmal discrepancy with the list of “Sponsors” including MacDonald’s etc., Rouse these advertisement seekers and suggest they add to their “free” sponsorship by being stout community overseers.
    A Thank You to Redbridge In Bloom Sponsors:
    Adecco, Clear View, Countrywide Development Plc, English Landscapes, Esporta, Fairheads, Fieldfenn Trust, Flowers by Karen, Ilford Recorder, Ilford Horticultural Society, Ilford Town Centre Partnership, Kurtis, MBs Grounds Maintenance, McDonalds at Barkingside, Metropolitan Essex Fuchsia Society, Park Leisure, Peverels, Plantcare, Sainsbury's, Smiths, SMP Playgrounds and The London Independent Hospital.

  6. “garden grabbing” got a whopping 18,600 googlepages today.

    Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) tried to save our gardens back in 2006, now fellow Conservative Caroline Spelman’s having a go, I heard on You and Yours today, they had a feature on it.

    Not only can you see back gardens, you can feel the benefits, in terms of fresh air and other health-giving natural amenities like tranquillity and verdant greenery.

  7. It was the Conservatives that first brought in legislation that allowed for our gardens to be classified as "brownfield". They started the ball rolling. It's okay for them, they mostly live in posh areas. Shame on them. Only the Lib Dems can save us now!

  8. "Only the LibDems can save us now". Hence the clear desire to remain anonymous.

  9. Anon 23rd March - trying to blame the Conservatives for this situation is a complete distortion of the facts. What we have is the common problem of an unfortunate and inadvertent loophole in complex legislative framework.

    “They have been classified that way since the 1980s, when their inclusion was simply a convenient way of rounding up housing statistics. Nobody paid much attention, until the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now the Department for Communities and Local Government) in 2000 set a target of 60% of new housing to be built on brownfield land. It didn't take long for developers to uncover the loophole, or realise the profits to be had by buying up family homes and gardens, and replacing them with flats.”

    Furthermore the definition was introduced before this NuLab government started importing vast quantities of cheap labour into England, exacerbating our overpopulation problem.

    Not to mention their deliberate undermining of the Family structure.

    This disaster is very much in New Labour's plate.

  10. In the ten short years? the department that is responsible for planning/housing has changed it's name a few times.

    ODPM Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, was changed to,

    DCLC, Department of Communities and Local Govermnment, and now CLG, with one less letter, they must be slimmer and more efficient right???