SOUTHEND’S parks nursery - which nurtures all the plants and flowers in public places across the city - has been saved from budget cuts.  

The nursery, in Wakering Road, Great Wakering, is used to grow plants which are then distributed to gardens and parks throughout the city.

Echo: Saved - the Parks Nursery was at risk of being decommissioned.Saved - the Parks Nursery was at risk of being decommissioned. (Image: Lydia Hyde)

Southend Council’s Conservative administration had planned to decommission the large glass nursery to save £750,000 over the next three years, however it was rescued during a series of eleventh hour budget amendments by the opposition councillors, it has emerged.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal, describes the nursery as “an important resource”.

He said: “What the nursery does, in terms of growing plants and flowers to keep the city looking as good as it can, is important from the perspective of a tourist city.”

Echo: Blooming - Chalkwell Park in the summer.Blooming - Chalkwell Park in the summer. (Image: Newsquest)

Lydia Hyde, Labour councillor for St Laurence, says the nursery provides plants for the city’s “incredible parks” which can benefit residents’ mental health.

She said: “Beautiful gardens are important for tourists and residents moving around their city.

Echo: Peaceful surroundings - the beds at Priory Park.Peaceful surroundings - the beds at Priory Park. (Image: Newsquest)

“A lot of Southend people really appreciate our parks. People go to places like Priory Park for their mental health. It’s really important to maintain that.”

Since the mid-2000s, seedlings have been nurtured there before being planted for the city’s much-admired summer displays.

Ms Hyde believes the parks team is at “the cutting edge of horticulture” with experiments carried out at the nursery.

Echo: Ms Hyde in the flower meadow at St Laurence Park.Ms Hyde in the flower meadow at St Laurence Park. (Image: Lydia Hyde)

She said: “After meeting with the team, I really felt we can use the site for innovative projects to help deliver our climate goals with biodiversity. Their work to reduce the need for peat, which contributes to climate change, is at the cutting edge of horticulture.”

It was planned to save money through a reduction in heating bills at the nursery, Ms Hyde says, however she believes the greenhouse can be kept in use with the heating off.

Echo: Floral - Southchurch Park.Floral - Southchurch Park. (Image: Newsquest)

She said: “In the 1980s, Southend grew trays and trays of seasonal bedding like pansies, which require a lot of heat. 40 years on, we can grow longer-lasting plants which don’t need that.

“Rather than mothballing the whole site, let’s turn off the heating and see what can grow.”