Volunteers left 'heartbroken' as thieves strip roses from Blackpool's Stanley Park
Thieves have stripped up to 150 rare roses from Blackpool’s historic Stanley Park in a series of repeated raids which have left volunteers heartbroken.
The latest incident saw 21 blooms taken in a single week bringing the total stolen this year to 70, while the toll over the past three years adds up to 150.
Up to £7,000 worth of heritage roses have been stolen, all of which had been paid for through fundraising by the Friends of Stanley Park, whose volunteers also plant and tend the roses.
Elaine Smith, chairman of the Friends of Stanley Park, said: “It’s heartbreaking for the volunteers who are there every day.
“The Rose Garden looked beautiful a few weeks ago and now it’s decimated.”
A survey by the Friends of Stanley Park has found 150 roses have been stolen in three years including 70 this year.
Blackpool police have confirmed they are aware of the incidents, while CCTV cameras have been installed in a bid to deter further thefts.
The latest plant raids happened on Tuesday June 15 and Wednesday June 16 from the Rose Garden, and it is believed the thefts happened at night.
Mrs Smith added: “Volunteers from the Friends of Stanley Park look after both the Rose Garden and the Memorial Garden.
“Because of the heritage status of the park every bed in the Rose Garden has to be planted with roses as near as possible to those originally planted when the park was laid out by Thomas Mawson, so we can’t easily replace them.
“They are just being pulled up and it’s distressing to see.
“We’ve also had other plants stolen from the Memorial Gardens. Volunteers have grown them at home, planted them out and them someone comes along and helps themselves.
“Some of our volunteers have even gone searching at car boot sales to see if they are being stolen to be sold.
“They are putting hours of work in and then this kind of thing happens.”
A £200,000 CCTV system has now been installed in the park, with 16 cameras including coverage of the Rose Garden which it is hoped will deter future incidents and help catch the culprits.
A Lancashire Police spokesperson said the rose thefts had been reported to them.
Stanley Park was constructed between 1924 and 1926 to designs by Thomas Mawson.
It has twice been named best park in the UK including in 2019 by the green space charity Fields in Trust based on public nominations.
Anyone interested in the work done by the volunteer gardeners at Stanley Park, can go along to the Rose Garden between 10.30am and 2.30pm on Saturday June 26 to meet the team.
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