The Memorial Garden in Cockenzie and Port Seton is one of the jewels in the village’s crown.

In a prominent central location opposite Cockenzie House, it is seen by all who enter the village from Prestonpans or from the bypass.

It has been admired by locals and residents alike and was highly commended by the judges from Beautiful Scotland when the village was entered into their competitions. It is used all-year-round by locals and visitors sitting enjoying their beautiful surroundings in summer and people walking through at other times.

The central focal point of the garden is the war memorial, which is surrounded by flower beds which are colourful throughout spring and summer. Last Wednesday, these flowerbeds were grassed over.

At the same time, the flower bed at the foot of Fishers Road was also grassed over. This action was undertaken without any consultation, not even with the community council or the In Bloom group.

We have assumed that it was done to save money.

However, it is seen by the local community as an act of vandalism, significantly diminishing the character and beauty of the Memorial Garden and the village. It has caused outrage locally.

We realise that East Lothian Council has financial problems. However, the small amount of savings made by this action will pale into insignificance when the long-term impact is realised.

One of the East Lothian Council Plan’s outcomes is ‘that local businesses are thriving’.

East Lothian relies heavily on the tourist industry. Visitors are attracted by the beautiful coastline and pretty villages.

Cockenzie and Port Seton has many visitors, coming to Seton Sands Holiday Park, to Cockenzie House, and walking the John Muir Way, for example.

Many comment on our beautiful public spaces. They should be kept beautiful!

A second outcome is ‘that East Lothian people can. . . contribute to a thriving community in a high-quality environment’. Cockenzie and Port Seton in Bloom volunteers have been doing just this for 26 years.

Any chance of continuing to achieve these outcomes has been reduced by this cost-cutting measure.

Sheila Chambers

Cockenzie and Port Seton in Bloom

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “We know that residents and visitors greatly appreciate landscaped areas and floral displays in the local area. We are grateful to everyone, including our staff and volunteers, who work so hard to ensure the community looks its best.

“As we have three gardeners with around 160 beds to maintain in the area they are responsible for, we have been looking at new options for how to best deploy limited resources at an extremely challenging time. There are a number of pressures on services which we are doing our best to manage.

“While the inner flowerbeds at the war memorial have been retained, grass has been laid at the location of the previous outer beds. Polyanthus have been planted at the war memorial for spring colour and these will stay as annual bedding.

“The bed at Fishers Road became obscured by the large utility box that was installed. The plan is to have bulbs planted and, where possible, wildflowers. Our expectation is that the benefits of this will become visible in the fullness of time. We also believe that this will lead to an improvement during future winters, as the weed growth associated with empty flowerbeds will be less apparent. We are very pleased to receive community feedback on this and are happy to engage with local groups to discuss ways of ensuring these areas continue to look fantastic for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.”