Joint statement from Newquay Town Council and Newquay Business Improvement District (BID)
The Town Council placed an order for hanging baskets in March 2020 as it would do in any other year. Unfortunately, this coincided with the unexpected start of the COVID-19 pandemic and imminent national lockdown. The Council’s supplier was subject to an enforced closure notice and all workers were placed on furlough leave. Peak growing season for the basket plants starts from early March and they need regular tending to in order to ensure that they are fully grown and able to withstand the extreme conditions throughout the period in which they are erected. With the workers on furlough this work simply could not be undertaken.
In addition to this, from March 25th 2020 the Coronavirus Act 2020 was brought into force. The UK Government advised the public to only leave their homes for very limited purposes and for essential work only. With the prominent key national message being ‘Stay at Home’, and with no specific opening plan or timeline in place for this, it would have been irresponsible to prioritise ordering the hanging baskets and encouraging footfall and dwell time in the town.
Furthermore, at that time, landscaping and ground maintenance work was not considered essential. Given the restrictions and uncertainty, it was also unclear whether the baskets could be installed and maintained in line with social-distancing requirements. A requirement which is still in place today, albeit reduced to one metre. Naturally, the safety of suppliers is of utmost importance to us and we would never ask anyone to put themselves at unnecessary risk or go against the grain of critical UK Government advice.
It was not until May 10th 2020 that the Government announced its plans to start easing lockdown measures with garden centres being the first to open on May 13th 2020. Given that the growing season for the baskets had passed by this date, the supplier simply could not fulfil the order for 2020 within the remaining timeframe. The Government is also restricting the number of planters and other street furniture items with a view of widening pavements to assist social distancing capabilities. We fully recognise the value the baskets bring to the town but hope residents can appreciate that the COVID-19 pandemic remains and has had a knock-on effect across all sectors of society.
Over the next few weeks, Newquay Town Council and Newquay Business Improvement District (BID) will jointly review what can be done with regards to additional planting for the remainder of the year or how we can possibly link in with Newquay In Bloom to ensure Newquay is as bright and colourful as it can be at this time of year. We will also aim to ensure a bigger and better display across the town in 2021. That said, our focus remains on town-wide safety and re-opening and this will continue to take precedence.