"NORTHAMPTON NAMED WINNER OF EAST MIDLAND IN BLOOM AWARDS" and "JUDGES PRAISE FOR OUR BLOOMING TOWN" and Herald and Post joined in the praise with "TOWN IS BLOOMING MARVELLOUS" I was suspicious.
|Northampton in Bloom St James|
And so it was, in what I am told is typical Tony Clarke fashion, that I adopted the mantra that a cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin. You see for some time now I have questioned just exactly what Britain in Bloom was really all about and wondering who it was who was judging who? Was it simply a vanity prize? or a true reflection of effort and input to celebrate all things floral in the world of Local Government.
My findings are not meant to embarrass anyone, nor to belittle the efforts of so many wonderful volunteers like George Howard of the Castle Environment Group, in fact Georges role becomes particularly important to the story.
But as far as the Council are concerned the real headlines are far from rosy and are very different from those above and could be chosen from the following options:
"COUNCIL COMES SECOND IN ONE HORSE RACE"
or how about "NO CUT BACKS ON FLOWERS AS OFFICERS PARTY ON"
or "EVERYONE'S A WINNER IN AWARDS FOR ALL FIASCO"
Any of the above will suffice, you see dig down under the rose beds, shine some sun light upon the shadier corners of the Local Government garden, and weed out the manure from the bullsh*t and you will find the whole horticultural beauty pageant is really nothing more than organic table dressing.
|Northampton in Bloom Thorplands|
A) Every paid entrant is guaranteed an award and
B) So innovative are they with the categories that you can have a whole one all for yourself if you wish!
There is Small Village, Village and Large Village, Small Town, Town and Large Town, Small City, City and Large City, Coastal Resort (watch out for global warming) Urban Community, the "It's your Neighbourhood" category, and the "Most Improved Entrant" award heads up a further 10 such "discretionary" awards to be shared out amongst all entrants. Northampton this year for some reason was placed in the "City" category (cities with populations of between 100,000 and 200,00) Northampton's population is of course 210,000 which would have pitted us against much stiffer competition from Derby, Leicester, Nottingham etc.
Last year we were up against, and came second to the giants of Loughborough who it seemed competed elsewhere this year leaving us in 2012 as the lone entrant in the City category and thus bringing us a Silver (Gilt) Medal.
Silver! you ask. why not Gold after all we were the only runner! Well it seems that BIB in a kindly attempt to make sure everyone's a winner only really judges you against a scoreboard ranging from 0 (for doing absolutely nothing at all) up to 200
These 200 points are then spread across three areas A, Horticultural achievement B Horticultural Practice and C Green Spaces And this is where it gets complicated 0-99 points gets you a Certificate of Achievement Award, 100-119 points a Bronze Medal, 120 - 169 points a Silver or Silver Gilt medal and 170- 200 points the Big bold Gold.
Back then to George down at Spring Boroughs, it seems that any Community involvement scores highly on the score board meaning that NBC's scores for the last two years have been favourably weighted due to the sterling efforts of George and others like him. Georges work this year even earned him a special "Judges Award" for his efforts.
|Northampton in Bloom Ethel Street|
EVERYONE'S IS INDEED A WINNER, they all cry, but none more it seems than those sent to represent the Council at the Annual awards. Obviously Britain in Bloom are very aware of the tight fiscal and economic climate that all Councils are now operating within and choose the venues of their award ceremonies very carefully indeed.
Last year they all gathered at the 5 star St Andrews Hotel overlooking the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient club and this year they are all off to Guernsey!
What a wonderful story, and so close to the florally scented press releases shooting forth from the budding press officers at the Guildhall.
Bouquet's all round