Response on flowers

FROM:- DRD Roads service Craigavon.

I refer to your news story ‘Flower power as village gets planting rights’ (31 May).

You reported that Donaghcloney residents are now able to plant flowers in planters and hanging baskets in the village after the “Department for Regional Development (DRD) gave them the go-ahead”.

You also reported that DRD made the Donaghcloney in Bloom group ‘jump through hoops and pay for their own public liability insurance which previously the council had provided’

I would wish to further comment on these statements.

Following a request from a local Councillor to the Roads Service Office in Craigavon, DRD staff readily agreed to a site meeting with Donaghcloney residents to resolve the issues.

While Roads Service was pleased to learn that the local group were keen to decorate the village, the Department cannot set aside its legal obligation to ensure the safety of pedestrian and road users. This issue was explained to and accepted by the group as being the priority.

Roads Service and the local group agreed the safe location for planters in the village, not hanging baskets.

It was explained to the group that the Department also has a legal obligation to ensure that appropriate public liability insurance is in place.

The Department understands that Craigavon Borough Council had in past years planted and maintained flower beds and would have had the necessary public liability insurance cover.

Unfortunately the Council have now withdrawn this service and therefore, their insurance cover for planting no longer covers these areas. Local groups, such as that in Donaghcloney, who wish to plant out flower beds or planters on Roads Service lands are required to provide adequate insurance cover. After consideration the group recognised that the responsibility would now rest with them to provide it.

While the Department must always meet its legal responsibilities in terms of road safety, it will continue to offer assistance and co-operate with local committees where an opportunity exists to do so.

EDITOR’S NOTE - I would point out much of what we reported was directly from Councillor Mark Baxter and we had also given a DRD response in our original story.