Thursday, July 25, 2024

Grimsby In Bloom to expand community facilities

Grimsby In Bloom committee members and volunteers have revealed their plans for an extra piece of land which is in the process of being granted to them on a 99-year lease at the Duke of York Gardens.

A Community Asset Transfer approved by North East Lincolnshire Council’s Cabinet means the group will be able expand into the large piece of land alongside their current Pavilion base, off Corporation Road, where they already provide a café, a garden room for community hire, a woodwork workshop and a small vegetable garden.

The group welcomed Cllr Stephen Harness, North East Lincolnshire Council Portfolio Holder for Finance, Resources and Assets, along to the site to see what they have planned.

The extra land, which is 51m x 34m, will allow the group to provide a flower and vegetable garden and a tree nursery, expanding their horticultural and environmental initiatives, and to build a small office for administration. The terms of the lease mean that they will be responsible for the maintenance of the site and will also be able to attract outside investment.

Grimsby in Bloom is a community-focused initiative dedicated to enhancing the local environment, fostering community engagement and addressing societal changes in Grimsby.

The group is keen to address community issues, such as social isolation, by providing a safe space for individuals to connect. They also offer mental health support through confidential counselling sessions, and youth engagement by providing practical workshops for children and scout/cubs groups. They provide environmental education by promoting gardening and horticultural activities to enhance the local environment.

The group held a lease on part of the land between 2015 and 2020, but this asset transfer, at a peppercorn rent, will give them the opportunity to manage this larger site well into the future.

North East Lincolnshire Council approved the transfer of the land at its Cabinet meeting in June following an extensive business case put forward by the group. The council considers proposals for Asset Transfer where certain organisations or groups can demonstrate they contribute significant social, economic or environmental benefits to the community. These benefits can be taken in lieu of monetary value demonstrated in rent.

Councillors agreed that the proposal “provides a social return on investment at a far out-weighted monetary equivalent to otherwise proposed rent.” The lease will now be progressed.

Grimsby in Bloom currently has 20-plus volunteers and a nine-strong management team. Chair Elaine Atkinson said the new lease and extra piece of land will allow the group to expand its facilities and also to incorporate a tranquility/friendship garden for older residents.

“We are thrilled that we will now have more space to do what we want to do,” she said. “This extra space will allow us to show the community that we are not just about plants.

“Gardening and horticultural activities are very much a part of what we do but we are here for wider community enhancement to provide a place where local people can come and join in or simply sit and feel comfortable, perhaps learn a new skill, and have some company if they want it.

“The extra land will mean a lot to our volunteers as at present we only have a small strip down the side to grow things, but this will allow us to have a proper vegetable and fruit garden with polytunnels, and we also plan to create a dipping pond, a nature area and a wormery,” she said.

Grimsby In Bloom also works closely with the DWP offering local people a chance to gain skills for employment.

“We had two volunteers who we put through the food hygiene qualifications and they have now gone on to new jobs,” said Elaine. “We had another lady who was just walking through the park and now volunteers for us twice a week. We are always looking for more volunteers and we really welcome people from ethnic minority groups who can teach us about growing a greater variety of fruit and vegetables,” she said.

One service user, Claire, said the group is providing a safe haven for her home-educated 13-year-old daughter to socialise and take part in activities which are helping to build her confidence.

She said: “It helps me enormously to see my daughter progressing and just to know that she has people here that she can talk to.”

Cllr Harness said: “Grimsby in Bloom has provided a comprehensive business case showing that they are community-focused and that they align with the Royal Horticultural Society’s principles to form a strong foundation as a vibrant hub, offering a range of activities, support, and events for the local community.

“Moreover, their planned expansion illustrates a commitment to enhance and broaden the initiatives, fostering a sustainable impact on the local environment and community engagement.

“We are very happy to grant them this lease, and they will now have full autonomy to concentrate on improving the sustainable provision of leisure and recreational use of the site, and to enhance the biodiversity of the area and make investment in the security of the site to deter anti-social behaviour.”

 

Image credit: North East Lincolnshire Council

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