The Britain in Bloom Competition
Britain in Bloom is one of the largest horticultural campaigns in Europe working year-round to create a cleaner and greener Britain through community action. Participants are judged on horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation. The competition was initiated by the British Tourist Board in 1963, inspired by a similar competition already thriving in France. It was taken over in 1983 by the Tidy Britain Group, and has been run by the Royal Horticultural Society since 2002.
The competition originally focused on horticulture solely in terms of seasonal planting displays. It was eventually recognised that these efforts were not often sustained throughout the year and so other areas of horticulture were incorporated such as landscaping and sustainable planting. There was also a need to recognise the efforts of urban communities and this has resulted in the composition of the competition as we know it today, which is almost as focused on community participation as it is on horticulture.
Britain in Bloom encompasses twelve English regions as well as Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. Each of these eighteen regions holds its own annual competition.
Tameside is located in the North West region and is therefore entered initially into the North West in Bloom contest. An entry must win its regional heat and be of a very high standard to be eligible for nomination into the national competition. There are many categories in the regional competitions, but only a small number of nominations can be made each year and these are made by the North West in Bloom judging committee. For example, there are nineteen categories in North West in Bloom, but only five winners are submitted. Nominations are made to evenly cover the categories: Village, Town, City, Urban Communities and Costal Resort. To ensure that different communities get the opportunity to represent their region, an entry can not be put forward to the national contest on consecutive years.
The nineteen categories of North West in Bloom are based mainly on population size.
- Village (small, medium and large)
- Town (small, medium and large)
- City (small and medium)
- Large City/Met Borough
- Urban Regeneration
- Urban Community
- Coastal Resort (small and large)
- Accommodation (Hotels, Residential Homes & Public Houses) (small and large)
- Tourist Attractions/Visitor Centres (small and large)
- Caravan parks
- Hospital and hospice grounds
Entries are judged on the same criteria in both competitions.
Horticultural Achievement accounts for 50% of the marks awarded, Environmental responsibility for 25% and Community Participation for 25%.
Horticultural Achievement evaluates the impact of the horticultural displays in an area and the standard of horticultural practice. The range of residential and community gardening is appraised, as is the involvement of businesses. The judges also assess the quality of verges, parks and public open spaces.
Environmental responsibility considers the level of work undertaken to encourage and maintain conservation and biodiversity. The judges look for recycling and a high consideration of the need to minimise demand placed on natural resources. This section evaluates the efforts made to improve the permanent environment including the management of vacant premises and plots, the control of litter, graffiti and dog-fouling and the maintenance and co-ordinated approach to street furniture. This section also covers efforts made to promote the local heritage of the area and the provision of public art.
Community Participation assesses the involvement by residents of the area. It evaluates the efforts made to develop this participation and the work being done to ensure that this contribution is sustainable. The judges look at the efforts made to promote In Bloom to the wider community and work carried out to encourage the involvement of local schools. They also look at the funding available to the entry and any support given by local businesses.
Entries are assessed by two judges who undertake a "tour" of the area entered. This tour follows a route set by the entrant organisation and the judges are escorted by up to four people, who point out elements of the route and inform the judges of works and projects that have taken place. The route is chosen as a representation of Tameside and must be completed in no more than four hours. The route must provide examples of activities that meet all the categories in which points are awarded. The result awarded to the entry rests entirely on the judging tour being successful.
Every effort is made to ensure that the judges realise the breadth and impact of projects carried out across Tameside throughout the year. However, if the judges see any items such as graffiti or litter on their way to and from the start of the judging tour they may also take points away from the score of the entry. Tameside in Bloom also produce a Portfolio document and a DVD to showcase the work carried throughout the year across the borough.