Sunday 22 July 2012

Reading's Treasured Gardens

Caversham Court from St Peter's Church's entrance
Caversham Court has hosted a couple of events recently, namely the Olympic Torch Relay (about which I've written previously) and also the Church Fete a week ago last Saturday.  I went to both, as did hundreds of others and the Fete raised an amazing £7,000!

The gardens are looking absolutely fabulous thanks to the dedication of Head Gardener Graham Spiller and his band of volunteers.  Of course without the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund which brought the neglected gardens back into order, we wouldn't be able to enjoy them in their current state.  This fact makes the current Labour administration's intention to cut this year's funding for overnight security completely barmy.
View of one of Caversham Court's borders

To many, including me, Reading was exceedingly lucky to convince the Heritage Lottery Fund to inject the substantial amount of funding necessary to bring back both Caversham Court and the Forbury Gardens to their former glory.  A total of £5 million pounds was invested.  We all owe the wonderful staff in the Parks Department for their hard work putting together the bids and to the gardeners for bringing the plans to life.  Once successful, for the administration to then cut the overnight security for a paltry saving was short-term and crass, to say the very least.

View from under the tree canopy towards the main entrance gate
Both Caversham Court and Forbury Gardens are jewels in Reading's crown and should be protected from the tiny, moronic percentage of people who fail to appreciate their worth and take any opportunity to vandalise or abuse these gardens.  Thankfully due to the public uproar and in particular both the Caversham & District Residents' Association (CADRA) and The Friends of Caversham Court - as well as Conservative Councillors, the Labour administration did a U-turn deciding not to cut the security this year.  However I am sorry to report that when questioned at the last Council meeting by my Caversham colleague, Cllr Tom Stanway, Labour failed to give reassurance that security would be maintained for future years.

In the meantime, last week Caversham Court and Forbury Gardens both received the Green Flag Award which is a sign to visitors that both parks are well maintained, well managed and have excellent facilities.  Winning parks have to demonstrate not only that standards are maintained but that continuous improvements are being achieved.

All the more reason for RBC to ensure the ongoing security for both!