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Flower festival is the latest victim of the crunch

15:28 24 February 2009

The annual Cozenton flower festival has been postponed for a year - wilting under the strain of the credit crunch. Medway Council bosses said the popular summer show had been axed owing to stallholders' concerns about the'profitability of the festival'in the current economic climate but would return next year. Labour group members said the cancellation was the result of a budget cut and accused the council of harbouring plans to close the Rainham nursery. The council's community services boss Howard Doe hit back at the claims, saying: "Yet again the Labour group has made accusations without getting their facts straight. "This is not a budget cut, the nursery is not closing nor has the summer festival been scrapped. We are working with Hadlow College to refurbishing the glasshouses to improve Conzenton Nursery. "Because of this, and the fact that some stallholders have expressed concerns about the profitability of the festival for them in the current economic climate, it has been decided to postpone the festival for this year. "The festival will certainly return next year and complement the proposed Rochester Cathedral flower festival in May 2010." Labour councillor Teresa Murray called for the flower festival to be re-installed, saying:'I am a regular visitor to Cozenton, and always attend the summer festival.  "This is an incredibly short-term approach by the Tories, as Cozenton provides much needed training for local residents.  "Their festival also allows a range of local groups- the Allotment Society, Fair Trade, charities working with people with disabilities- to raise their profile, as well as being a great day out.  "The Tories are undermining community groups again.'Rainham and Gillingham MP Paul Clark added: "The Tories try to claim that they give Medway residents value for money. "However, I don't think people in Gillingham would agree when the Tories are attempting to cut Cozenton Park's budget, close the nursery down, and scrap the summer festival.' Cozenton nursery is the council's own garden centre, producing 175,000 high quality bedding and decorative plants for council land. The nursery also provides horticultural training for students in conjunction with Hadlow College.

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