LYMINGTON will not be winning a coveted In Bloom award this year after the town council decided to pull out of the gardening competition.
Instead of taking part in the south and south-east regional contest, as it has since 2012, the community will instead hold its own flower festival with the ultimate aim of turning it into a bigger annual event.
The decision not to take part in In Bloom was approved at a meeting of the town council’s amenities committee.
A report said the town had won several silver gilt and gold awards, and had been Common of the Year winner in 2017 with Pennington Common.
But the costs of entering In Bloom, including submission and hosting judges, came to about £500 a year, it added.
Now judges were also demanding a “changing focus” to be in with a chance of winning future prizes, such as evidence of “community involvement” and “sustainability schemes”.
Suggesting a “refreshing” of the town council’s approach, the report advised: “In 2019 it is proposed to present, for the first time, a Lymington and Pennington-focused flower festival.
“This would be open to everyone and allow businesses, schools, care homes and residents alike to enter.”
The festival will involve Lymington Camera Club and a photography competition among residents running from May to July.
Town clerk Caroline Godfrey told the A&T afterwards: “Members felt [In Bloom] would be another certificate and another award. What does that mean to local people?”
“We aim to keep it simple for the first year,” added Mrs Godfrey, who confirmed funding for the town’s admired floral displays will stay the same.
Displays maintained by the town council have included hanging baskets, on lampposts, and roadside planters, as well as bigger presentations at Woodside park and, with community support, wild flower meadows.
The report said: “The council is aware how much these displays are enjoyed by the public.
“Each year we receive letters directly or via social media from residents who express their joy at seeing the town and surrounding areas looking so beautifully adorned with these displays.”