Bangor's the blooming best
Everything's coming up roses for Bangor's hardworking council gardeners.
For the town has been crowned top in its field in the 2013 Britain in Bloom awards.
The accolade is especially welcome for the town which came so close so many times before, only to be runner-up.
The Gold Award was made last Saturday evening (12th) and was received by chairman of North Down Borough Council's Environmental Services Committee, Councillor Harry Dunlop, and Grounds Maintenance manager, Ian Beaney.
Bangor clinched first place in the Coastal Town category, in the face of competition from across the UK.
Councillor Peter Weir MLA said: "We are often too negative as regards North Down, but I believe that this shows it is time to celebrate the best about our town and its welcoming beauty."
North Down councillor and MLA, Gordon Dunne, commented: "Flowers really help to brighten up Bangor and it is a great boost to the town to now be a winner of gold. This, combined with the upcoming Public Realm works within North Down, shows a very bright and colourful future for our town centres."
Commenting on Bangor's success, the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) judging panel said, "From the minute you enter this resort its signature as a floral town reaches out to your every sense. Swathes of modern planting coupled with more traditional baskets and planters adorn every corner.
"The recent development of a new leisure centre, adjacent to the excellent walled garden, provide something for everyone, young and old. After a number of years in the competition, it gives the judges great pleasure in awarding a much sought after Gold medal to this golden resort, well done to all."
The judges highlighted several features in their feedback, including the new sustainable landscaping at Pickie Fun Park, the community garden at Project 24 and wildflower planting across the town.
The council's Ian Beaney said, "Through this year's competition we have encouraged different groups who would never have collectively participated in the same competition to work together, and highlighted how cooperation and teamwork are the basis for a functional community."
Mayor of North Down, Councillor Andrew Muir, said of the gold award: "It is a tribute to the hard work of many groups of people – our local businesses, the community garden volunteers from Harbour Ward, the staff at Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre and the volunteers at Bangor Castle Walled Garden.
"Individuals I would like to thank include Lynne Cleland at Bayview Resource Centre, Gary Thompson at CVNI and Nancy Graham who invited the RHS judges to see her private garden.
"I must say a special thank you to all the council's Grounds Maintenance staff who have worked so hard to deliver a varied programme of horticulture."