PLANS to create more environmentally-friendly planting schemes in Salisbury have been approved – which could see the end of the city’s hanging baskets.
On Monday (July 3), members of Salisbury City Council’s Environment and Climate Committee considered a report detailing steps that could be taken to improve the environmental impact of displays in the city, as well as cutting costs.
Among the ideas recommended for consideration were the installation of ‘parklets’ – small, plant-rich seating areas – and replacing traditional hanging baskets with more biodiverse ‘living pillars’.
The moves are aimed at cutting the council’s current bill of around £30,000 per year to maintain floral displays, including the Gilbert the Dragon display, which the report said has ‘reached the end of its life span’.
“Salisbury City Council declared a Climate Change Emergency in 2019 and is committed to making Salisbury as carbon neutral as possible by 2030,” the report said.
“Colourful displays adorn central Salisbury ever summer, bringing colour and a sense of fun to the city centre as well as an expression of civic pride.
“However, these displays are increasingly demanding in terms of costs and other resources as the summer become increasingly dryer and hotter, as the climate continues to change.
“For example, approximately 30,000 litres of water was used on Gilbert last year, at an estimated cost of £700.
“Gilbert’s frame has reached the end of its life span, with much of the internal watering pipework now failing.”
New displays could see the council increase biodiversity in the city, it went on.
“These traditional displays also offer little in terms of increasing bio-diversity,” it said. “The need to consider sustainability and biodiversity is increasingly pressing. It is time for a more forward-looking approach that is more sympathetic to the environmental challenges the country are facing, and that embraces change and considers alternative approaches.
“Rethinking and/or reimagining the current approach offers some exciting new opportunities to deliver a better and more integrated approach.”
Costs ‘are escalating’, councillors were told, due to global events, supply issues and environmental pressures, with changes to planting displays helping cut spending.
“For example, the use of drought resistant and lower maintenance planting mixes could significantly reduce maintenance/watering costs throughout the year,” it said.
“The creation of larger planted spaces, as opposed to smaller planted containers/hanging baskets/troughs would help to reduce production costs, waste materials and energy required to sustain this traditional approach.”
Proposals detailed in the report included creating a parklet on the Market/Guildhall Square, as well as replacing hanging baskets with living pillars, which offer ‘more benefits to wildlife and require less watering’.
However, the plans have been met with some criticism.
Leader of the Conservative opposition on the council, Cllr Eleanor Wills (Con, Harnham West), called the proposals ‘virtue signalling’, ‘ideological nonsense’ and branded the council administration a ‘left-wing cabal’.
After the meeting, she said: “(The hanging baskets) are all going, to become parklets and sustainable tree planters.
“We think it is incredibly unfortunate for a historic city with medieval routes, this is absolutely the wrong decision by the administration and we’ve had enough.”
Councillors on the committee voted to pass the recommendations.