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Thieves steal spring from a Fenland town as £2,000 worth daffodil blooms are picked




Public walkways in a Fenland town have been stripped of their spring colour after thieves picked over 10,000 blooming daffodils worth an estimated £2,000.

Penny Stocks, from Wisbech Street Pride and Wisbech in Bloom, who was among the hardy volunteers who planted more than 20,000 bulbs along Octavia Walk in winter 2018 said the incident is just the latest in what she described as the worst year for thefts and vandalism for the town's floral displays.

She explained Wisbech Street Pride used a grant from Healthy Fenland to buy and plant the bulbs with the aim of creating a series of fitness walks around the Harecroft Road playing fields, and had also installed a map and information board telling people about the routes.

Volunteers from Wisbech Street Pride and Wisbech in Bloom planted 20,000 bulbs along Octavia Walk and the town's fitness paths. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.
Volunteers from Wisbech Street Pride and Wisbech in Bloom planted 20,000 bulbs along Octavia Walk and the town's fitness paths. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.

The planting followed a number of sessions to clear the area around the Harecroft Road playing fields and Chapel Road area before members of the Wisbech in Bloom/Street Pride teams started digging in the bulbs for what was the group’s biggest project to date in December 2018.

Penny said: "It is very disheartening, that area is lovely and green but we thought it would be nice to add a splash of colour. The bulbs were a mixture to ensure the flowering lasted for as long as possible. The snowdrops and grape hyacinths went untouched, but unfortunately the thieves have picked every flowering daffodil apart from a handful. They seem to come along and pick them just as they are in bud and about to flower, so they know what they are doing.

"To be honest this has been the worst year for thefts and vandalism. We have had nice grasses taken from plantings, bits and pieces have also been stolen from the planters and we have also had vandalism with a group of young people taking things out of the planters in Museum Square and throwing them around.

"All the work is done by volunteers and I think without the floral displays the town would be a much duller place."

Volunteers from Wisbech Street Pride and Wisbech in Bloom planted 20,000 bulbs along Octavia Walk and the town's fitness paths. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.
Volunteers from Wisbech Street Pride and Wisbech in Bloom planted 20,000 bulbs along Octavia Walk and the town's fitness paths. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.

Alan Wheeldon, who is also a member of both groups, was the one to raise the alarm over the thefts, which occurred over a number of days last week.

He said: "It really is quite obvious. The daffodils look lovely all over town, bright and yellow, but along Octavia Walk where there should be thousands there are just a few left.

"They have been picked on an industrial level. We have reported it to police and they have promised to put two officers on the case and will be reviewing the CCTV to see if they can find any evidence of who has done this.

Volunteers from Wisbech Street Pride and Wisbech in Bloom planted 20,000 bulbs along Octavia Walk and the town's fitness paths. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.
Volunteers from Wisbech Street Pride and Wisbech in Bloom planted 20,000 bulbs along Octavia Walk and the town's fitness paths. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.

"It is very disappointing, but I think it is going to be hard to prove who is responsible unless they are caught in the act. Apparently I have been told there was a chap selling daffodils outside Asda and another report of a man with "rucksacks full" of them on the Market Place - but whether they are linked to the thefts or it is just coincidence it is hard to tell.

"But I would urge people not to buy daffodils if they see them being sold and it is unclear where they have come from. If they can't sell the flowers, then maybe they will stop picking them."

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: "A crime has been raised following reports of more than £1,230 worth of daffodils having been cut at the bottom of their stems and taken from the National Trust site in Chapel Road, Wisbech."

The daffodils went untouched last spring - but were newly planted and were not so abundant as this year's blooms. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.
The daffodils went untouched last spring - but were newly planted and were not so abundant as this year's blooms. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.

The figure £1,230 was the value of the grant given to the volunteers to plant the bulbs but does not reflect the true worth of the blooming flowers, which are selling in one local supermarket for just over £1 a bunch.

The daffodils went untouched last spring - but were newly planted and were not so abundant as this year's blooms. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.
The daffodils went untouched last spring - but were newly planted and were not so abundant as this year's blooms. Picture: Alan Wheeldon.

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