Council apologises for ripping out community plant bed

Wednesday March 8th 2023


The plant bed around the Newtongrange Miners' Wheel situated at the entrance to the village from the A7.

Written by Midlothian View Editor, Phil Bowen

Newtongrange Guerrilla Gardeners were dismayed yesterday to see council workers ripping out a plant bed that they have been maintaining.

For the last two years they have planted, weeded, litter-picked and generally maintained the bed around the Miners’ Wheel situated at the entrance to the village from the A7.

Locals were shocked to see Midlothian Council workers ripping out their plants and disposing of them. Some of these plants had been grown from seed, some were grown by local residents in their gardens and some were bought with money donated by locals.

They managed to speak to someone at the council to get the work stopped before all the plants were removed however by that time a lot had already been take out.

The Guerrilla Gardeners said “We are gutted for everyone who donated their time, effort and money to brighten up this area.”

Local councillor Ellen Scott reacted to the news on the Guerrilla Gardeners facebook page saying

“Sorry to hear this. I can understand how you must feel. I saw someone planting recently and thought how nice. You must all be devastated.”

Another councillor Kelly Drummond said she was:

“Shocked and saddened to read this, have asked the landscaping service manager to investigate and what can be done to repair the damage. I know what a good job has been done by the Guerrilla Gardeners in Newtongrange, it was looking lovely.

Midlothian View contacted the council for an explanation and a spokesperson said:

“The bedded area at Newtongrange is being replanted as part of a scheduled programme of improvements that also includes tidying, cleaning and replacing the cobbles and painting the wheel.

“The intention was always to return the planted area around the wheel to the previous standard.

“We are really sorry for not communicating this to the Newtongrange community. Our Land and Countryside manager has contacted the Newtongrange Guerrilla Gardeners to apologise and to arrange to meet them. We want to make sure we plant what the community wish to see blooming.

“We’d like to thank the gardeners for taking the time to improve their local environment and we look forward to developing a positive working relationship in the future.”

Midlothian View pressed the council as to whether they were going to reimburse the gardeners for the loss of the plants they had bought. They said:

“As we plan to replace all the plants, our initial thoughts are there is no need for reimbursement. However, when the land services manager meets with the guerrilla gardeners, he will be happy to discuss further.”

We also asked the council if they kept a record of plant beds which were now being looked after by community groups such as the Newtongrange Guerrilla Gardeners.

The council said that there is a form on the council website for this purpose which community groups can use to adopt a green space and maintain it along with the council for the benefit of the community and biodiversity. Once a green space has been adopted then it must be re-adopted each year so the council know that is still being cared for. The annual submission deadline is 29 April and the form can be found HERE.

The council said that in this case the Newtongrange Guerilla Gardeners did not register with them so the people that needed to know they were active didn’t know. The gardeners did contact the council roads team but that communication did not make its way to the land team so the council apologised for that.

There are numerous Guerrilla Gardener and community groups looking after plant beds throughout Midlothian in towns such as Dalkeith, Danderhall, Bonnyrigg as well as Newtongrange. The advice to all of them is to register with the council using the form above to prevent what happened yesterday in Newtongrange.

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