A nursery which provided blooms to brighten the parks, gardens and streets of Kirklees is close this Christmas.
The expansive nurseries at Bradley are being axed as Kirklees Council turns to commercial suppliers for its plants.
The sole Kirklees employee working on the Leeds Road site has been offered another job with the council’s grounds maintenance team.
Kirklees said the move – which ends 150 years of municipal plant-growing – was saving the council almost £170,000 a year.
It comes as the council advertises for a parks development officer and someone already on the council staff to provide maternity leave cover for parks development officer.
Retired Kirklees gardener Peter Fawcett, of Cleckheaton, asked how the council could be advertising for parks development officers “when no development is going on” and the parks budget had been cut “drastically.”
Bradley nurseries provided the flowers for the French farmyard which appeared in St George's Square during the 2014 Tour De France Grand Depart - take a look!
A council spokesperson defended the closure of Bradley nurseries and the recruitment plan.
“The council used commercial providers for our flowers this year with great success,” she said. “In fact, those supplied for our bedding were of such a high quality that we have identified further savings. We needed fewer of the plants to cover the same area compared with when we used our internally grown plants.
“We now have the confidence to move forward to reduce our nursery operation and procure supply contracts, saving the council over £169,000 a year in the process. As such, we no longer need a nursery the scale of our Bradley site. We will instead set up much smaller ones in our depots to suit our new operating model.”
She added: “There is only one Kirklees Council employee working at the site and they have been offered an alternative role within our grounds maintenance team. The other officer is employed by Calderdale Council. He will continue to help with the implementation of the new model before retiring next year.”
Commenting on the job adverts, the spokesperson said the council was recruiting two parks development officers – one a permanent post for North Kirklees and the other for South Kirklees as maternity cover.
The spokesperson said the officers’ role mainly involved managing Section 106 money – cash paid to the council by developers of new housing – and other grants to create or enhance play areas and parks.
Kirklees Council’s plan to close Bradley nurseries emerged in September, 2015, when it had four employees.
In March this year, the Examiner reported that Kirklees had agreed a temporary arrangement for Darlington Council to supply seasonal plants to Kirklees while it put in place a new and longer term contract for the future supply.