MORPETH was at its blooming best on Monday as the judges came to town.
Those behind the bid and members of the community were determined to put the vandalism in Deuchar Park behind them as they aim to once again retain the Northumbria in Bloom Best Town crown.
The judges were shown beautiful plants, flowers and trees put together by Morpeth Town Council, groups such as the local scouts, Soroptimists and King Edward VI School and individuals including Ethel Richardson and River Warden Brian Parker.
They visited the Rotary Garden, Millennium Green, Market Place, High Stanners, Morpeth Railway Station, Stobhill Manor Estate, Mafeking Park, the Sun Inn and Carlisle Park among other places.
Staff from Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre and Northumberland County Council have also helped with the bid.
Town Council Clerk Gillian Turner said: “The day went very well and the judges were impressed with how the town looked.
“They were delighted to meet representatives from a range of organisations and were very complimentary about what they saw. I know we have got to miss out on the title some time, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will get another gold award this year.
“I mentioned to the judges that many people got in touch with us about the tubs being knocked over in Deuchar Park, which showed how much it means to residents to have so many bright and beautiful areas to enjoy across the town.”
The judges also saw some fantastic displays in the town centre put together by the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade and individual businesses such as Rutherfords of Morpeth.
Last year Sanderson Arcade won the best shopping area category for the competition, so the stakes were high for Raymond Dixon – the man responsible for the centre’s landscaping.
Together with his father in law – local trader Bob Penman – they have worked round the clock in recent weeks to wow the judges with a riot of floral colour.
Mr Dixon said: “It is a fantastic thing to be involved with and I really hope the judges were impressed.
“We’ve certainly worked hard to come up with something special for this year and we’ve had some really lovely comments from shoppers.”
Centre Manager Debbie Anderson added: “The whole town looks amazing and here at Sanderson Arcade. Raymond and Bob have been working until midnight these last few days in the run up to the competition to make sure everything is just right.
“The judges seemed impressed with what they saw and we’ll certainly have our fingers crossed.”
Last week, five oak-barrelled flower towers in Deuchar Park were toppled over, spilling their yellow and orange begonias on the ground.
And between Thursday night and Friday morning, the three towers that had been put back up were knocked down again.
Police have deployed extra resources and a mobile CCTV camera in the area and since then there have been no further incidents.
Coun Andrew Tebbutt, whose county council and town council wards include Deuchar Park, said: “I’m absolutely disgusted with these mindless morons. They must be caught and prosecuted.
“If the culprits aren’t going to own up, others must know who they are and I urge them to tell the police.”
Anyone with information about these acts of vandalism can contact Morpeth police on 03456 043043.