COUNCILLORS were left shocked when they learned the cost of keeping Wellington Park and the town centre looking attractive with flower beds and planting had escalated almost overnight.

Town councillors agreed in January to take on responsibility for planting the park and town centre flower beds because cash-strapped Somerset Council said it would no longer do so.

It set a budget of £20,000 for the planting the park and £15,000 for the town’s hanging baskets and planters based on estimates from the unitary authority

But now, Somerset Council has said the park will cost £31,000 and hanging baskets, beds, and tubs nearly £47,800, making a total £78,800.

Town clerk Dave Farrow said Somerset Council was changing its estimates regularly.

Residents relax in Wellington Park.
Residents relax in Wellington Park. (Tindle News)

“But this is a significant expense – way over and above what we thought,” he said.

The town mayor, Cllr Marcus Barr, said: “Wellington Park is the jewel in the town. I feel we have here Somerset Council trying to make some money and I do believe these prices could well be over-inflated.”

The latest information from County Hall was received so late by the town council that deputy town clerk Alice Kendall had to prepare a written report while councillors were sat in their meeting.

The report showed that Somerset Council wanted just under £40,000 for the planting of town centre flower beds and tubs, with each flower bed costing between £4,360 and a whopping £5,380.

Cllr John Thorne said: “The costs for tubs and flower beds are daylight robbery. How can they be charging £4,000 for a flower bed?

“I wouldn’t go as far to say as to concrete over these flower beds as they did with the floral clock in Weston-super-Mare, but I’d propose we just grass them over instead.

“I think we all agree we must do Wellington Park, although I’m not fussed about hanging baskets for the town centre.”

Cllr Keith Wheatley said: “I think it’s debatable that the appearance of Wellington Park trumps the appearance of the town centre.

“Many people who come to Wellington don’t go anywhere near Wellington Park.

“I’m sure more people visit the town centre.

“Hanging baskets and flower beds in the centre are important and give people pride in the town and I don’t think I could support the grassing over of the flower beds.

“I’m very sceptical about the costs provided by Somerset Council. They’ve messed us around – so I’d tell them to get lost.”

Somerset Council quoted £8,282 for hanging baskets in the town centre in 2024-25, although the town council had received a quote from another company for £1,000 cheaper.

Councillors voted in favour of allowing officers to spend up to £31,000 for the planting and maintenance of Wellington Park and enter negotiations with J. Hewitt Maintenance Services for installation, watering, and deadheading of hanging baskets and troughs.

They also agreed to spend up to £1,500 on plants for the town centre beds and tubs and to look at cheaper ways of planting and maintaining them.