I think your relatively new reporter Jack Duggan made a good job in the January 29 Observer when he described the long-running saga of the Next Wave horticulture which has appeared on Bexhill’s West Parade.
He was met by two people.
The previous Vox Pop Jackie Bialeska who has done stalwart work saving the best features of Bexhill seafront (particularly the East Parade) and myself who has specialised in trying to get the plants corrected on West Parade.
Readers should be reminded that the Landscape Group announced, with great pride, that they had appointed Noel Kingsbury, a well known horticultural journalist, to design the new gardens along the seafront.
He was assisted by a specialist, Naila Green, who recommended plants likely to survive a typical maritime habitat.
On the launch day, September 13, 2010, Noel Kingsbury was presented to the press and Bexhill’s public.
To his great credit, the Observer reporter at the time was not satisfied with the standard handouts and queried certain features.
Most memorable to the townsfolk was his persistent, and oft repeated question, to the designer which was, have you ever designed a seaside garden before and, if so, where?
Eventually after four of the reporter’s attempts he admitted he had never designed a seaside garden.
In January, the press release from The Landscape Group which was uncritically copied in the Observer, it was stated that the BALI award was only the ‘latest in a string of plaudits for the West Parade scheme’.
Well, when these have been announced, usually with a photograph, I have always telephoned the awarding body and puzzled, I asked them who were the judges?
Every time the same (honest) answer came back: “Well we haven’t actually judged it.”
To which I immediately asked, well how do you award these schemes?
Well we receive a written recommendation and issue a reward!
This time it was somewhat different.
I telephoned Paul Norton of the Landscape Group who was featured as the spokesman for the company.
I was unable to get him over several days. That was, I’m quite sure genuine and not sinister.
Nevertheless, publicity was well covered in my trade journal called Horticulture Week...or was it?
A colour photograph of all the judges was printed which I have given to the Observer.
But, and it is a big but, not a single judge was named or even the organisation which he came from.
They are all anonymous.
Readers will have their own reaction to this scenario.
However, I ask all our townsfolk to assess the worth of these awards for a project which has been persistently controversial and I accompany this letter with a photograph of the superb gardens as they were in 2010 (pictured above) and wonder whether the £6m replacement scheme was worth all the aggravation.
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