A COLCHESTER In Bloom volunteer says his offer to rent or buy a council meadow to grow flowers - and subsequently income - for the town has been repeatedly refused.

Andy Hamilton has claimed the Spring Lane Nursery Meadow off Bakers Lane has been unused for years.

It is owned by Colchester Council as a storage facility who also allow bee keepers to use the site for a nominal fee.

But Mr Hamilton, of Acland Avenue, Lexden, says a better use for the 5.6 acre site is for him to buy the land or lease it from the council and use the area to grow more flowers.

He has been backed by Colchester councillor Dave Harris, who is also secretary for Colchester In Bloom.

Mr Hamilton said: "I do not understand why Colchester Council has refused use of this nursery by Colchester in Bloom so they can grow flowering plants up to full size. I have offered to buy or lease the land so Colchester in Bloom could grow plants for public display.

"Every year the request gets a refusal yet the land floods in winter and is in a conservation area so will not be developed. I have no idea why Colchester Council holds this land despite having no use for it and probably no revenue."

He added: "There is a concrete area for vehicles and land beyond was previously used for greenhouses.

"It would be an ideal location for rehabilitation work for ex-services suffering from Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder as it is so quiet there.

"It seems pointless Colchester Council funding Colchester in Bloom to buy commercial flowering plants each year when many could be recycled for use each year."

Mr Harris added he backed Mr Hamilton, who has provided Colchester In Bloom with flowers.

The Labour councillor added: "Last time we asked the council they refused and I was amazed at that because I thought a little bit of income for them would be fantastic.

"If the council can find a way to let him have permission, I think nothing but good can become of that."

But a council spokesman said: “The Spring Lane Nursery site is currently used by the council and our gardening and ground maintenance contractors as a storage facility.

"It has been used for this purpose for many years and plays an important role in our work to ensure the upkeep of our fantastic parks and open spaces.

“Before this, during the 1970s and 1980s, it was used as an area to grow trees which the council then planted across the borough.

“Part of the site is managed as a nature reserve in accordance with our sustainability commitments, and last year we agreed to allow the Colchester Beekeepers to have an apiary on the site for a nominal fee.

"They use this predominately for teaching and demonstrations of beekeeping on a non-commercial basis, and the agreement ends in 2022.”