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£25,000 gardening ‘has not been done’
11:00am Friday 4th October 2013 in News
CALLS have been made for the council to explain why it pocketed £25,000 from a private landlord to tend gardens in Old Town and then only worked there a handful of times.
Councillor Nadine Watts, who represents Old Town, was contacted by residents complaining that gardens at Mistletoe and Rowan Courts, in Angel Ridge, had no work carried out this year.
Last week the Advertiser reported residents were being asked to pay a bill to the managers of the building, called Daisy Estate Managers.
This came after they took it upon themselves to maintain the garden after repeated requests to the council to carry out the work.
The land is currently owned by an outside company. However, there is a requirement under a section 106 agreement that the land will be transferred to the council at some stage and the council, as part of a section 106 agreement, was paid £25,000 by the current registered landowner to maintain the gardens until the transfer took place.
Resident Karen Neal, 39, of Garden View, said it was not good that the council had left the land to overgrow.
She said: “In the long grass you can’t see if there is dog poo which I worry about for my children.
“We are quite lucky because we have a good-sized garden but I know lots of people around here don’t and they rely on that space.”
Hannah Crawley, 35, of Rowan Court, said: “The council should be honouring its arrangement and maintaining the gardens.”
Coun Watts’ motion for the council to properly identify and address land under designated ownership at the earliest possibly opportunity was approved by full council last week.
“The outside management should never have had to maintain the gardens. It should have never got to that stage,” said Coun Watts. “The council took the money for a specific purpose and they should spend it on that.”
She said a council official told her that the money gets added to a big pot of money to maintain gardens across the borough and under the rules work is carried out once a year in the spring.
“Residents have told me no one from the council has been there for years,” added Coun Watts.
“The council should explain to residents why the work has not been carried out.”
Each year members of the south locality team pick causes to support and carry out work.
Coun Watts said she would suggest that the group’s work for next year will be to maintain the gardens in autumn.
A spokesman for Daisy Estate Managers said: “Maintenance and upkeep of the communal gardens at Rowan and Mistletoe Courts is the responsibility of Swindon Borough Council. “Over the summer the gardens became overgrown, and unusable by the residents, as the council had not undertaken its duties. “The residents made numerous complaints to the council and to us as managing agents and, despite the promise of work in September, nothing has been done. “In order that the gardens are able to be enjoyed this autumn, Daisy Estate Managers reluctantly took the decision to appoint a gardening company.”
A council spokesperson said: “As an elected member, Councillor Watts is entitled to get the answer to this question from officers who manage the service, and a detailed explanation has been provided. “She is free to put that into the public domain.”
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