VANDALS have struck Morpeth’s bloom bid just days before judges are due to arrive in the town.
Five oak-barrelled flower towers in Deuchar Park have been toppled over, spilling their yellow and orange begonias onto the ground.
The planters, worth about £650 each, were bought by Morpeth Town Council five years ago with grant funding as part of their Britain In Bloom bid.
It will not be known whether they can be salvaged until they are lifted out by crane by Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre and examined.
However, with Northumbria In Bloom summer judging due to take place in the town on Monday, there is little time for organisers of the Morpeth entry to recover from the damage.
Town Clerk Gillian Turner said: “You could just cry after all the hard work that people have put in.
“The flower towers looked absolutely beautiful. We don’t know if they can be salvaged. It all depends what happens when we try to lift them. Some of the plants are still in them, but a lot have spilled out so even if we can rescue the towers they will need to be replanted.”
The attack took place overnight on Monday.
Dozens of members of the public have contacted the council to make sure it was aware of the problem and express their dismay. And even Bloom judge Marian Foster has been in touch to offer reassurance that the overall bid should not be affected.
Ms Turner said: “It is amazing how many people have phoned us or come into reception to tell us about it, or emailed us. People have really gone out of their way to tell us.
“It is lovely that people care so much. It shows how people feel about that particular entrance to the town and about the displays around Morpeth in general.
“Marian Foster was in Morpeth and noticed the towers had been toppled over so she got in touch to say the judges will take it into consideration so that we won’t be penalised. She was really supportive.
“It is just unfortunate that there are some mindless people who do these things.”
She added: “It is such a busy road along there and the people who did this must have been standing on the roadside because all of the towers have fallen into the trees so they would have been easily visible. The towers are very heavy so in my opinion it would have taken more than one person to do this. If anyone saw anything I would ask them to report it.”
Acting Morpeth Inspector Dave Simpson said: “This is just mindless. People are putting a lot of hard work into making the place look nice so this is really disappointing.”
Anyone with information about the incident should contact police on 03456 043043, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
• A community clean-up day ahead of Northumbria In Bloom judging will take place on Sunday. Participants should meet at the Riverside Leisure Centre at 10am.