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Sir Nicholas Winton Memorial Gardens 'totally neglected'

Concerns have been raised by a resident and councillor over the upkeep of the Sir Nicholas Winton Memorial Gardens.

After a recent visit to the gardens, Diana Robertson was compelled to write to the Advertiser expressing her displeasure at seeing them ‘totally neglected’.

Sir Nicholas Winton helped save hundreds of mostly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia as the Second World War loomed and the memorial in his memory was created in Oaken Grove Park.

“He was such a figure in the town,” said Diana. “I do feel ashamed at the way they’re being let go.”

The upkeep of the Sir Nicholas Winton Memorial Gardens is something leader of the borough’s Liberal Democrats, councillor Simon Werner (Lib Dems, Pinkneys Green) has spoken out about before.

He knew Sir Nicholas Winton in the 1980s as a fellow member of the Liberal party.

“It’s really disrespectful to his memory to allow it to get to such a state,” said Cllr Werner, speaking on Tuesday. “I think the contractors that the council hire to do this kind of work just aren’t up to the job, they don’t really know how to garden properly.”

On Tuesday evening, Cllr Werner put forward a motion during a full council meeting to explore the possibility of delivering similar services in-house, rather than awarding contracts to outside partners.

“Residents have rightly been disappointed with the performance of many of the contracts that we currently divvy out,” Cllr Werner said at the meeting on Tuesday.

“I only have to mention again the failure of the waste contract over the last couple of months to demonstrate that out-sourced services are not necessarily the answer.”

Catherine del Campo (Lib Dems, Furze Platt) said ‘some of our out-sourced services appear to be running better than others’.

She said in her ward there are plants growing out of storm drains and sewage has been deposited on residents’ gardens – with action only now being considered after ‘18 months of to and fro’.

Noting the contribution of a resident who has taken charge of flowerbeds close to Oaken Grove Park, Cllr del Campo said: “I have to question how we’ve come to this point when we are paying companies to do these services for us.”

Cllr Lynne Jones (OWRA, Old Windsor) said some of the council’s 'external market solutions have been extremely successful and some not so.'

“We’re supposed to be providing excellent and value for money solutions, not just value for money,” she added.

Cllr Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s) said ‘the way that Serco are struggling’ illustrates how difficult it is to deliver some contracts.

She said: “To be emptying a number of bins that they have to and getting it right with the size of the contract financially, this is not something that we want to take upon ourselves.

“I think you need to understand, before we naively sign up for it that it’s not something that one goes into lightly.”

The motion was not carried with 22 councillors voting against, and 18 for.

A spokesman for the Royal Borough said the council would look into concerns regarding the gardens.

He said: “The council is grateful for any feedback on the sites that we care for and we take such feedback seriously. As a result, we are investigating the concerns raised about Sir Nicholas Winton Memorial Garden.”

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