Moorbank Update

DSCN3570The Moorbank Executive Committee has been constantly working behind the scenes to secure the future of the garden year. However, we have been significantly hampered in our efforts, and would appreciate help or advice from new sources now.

Over the last year, the committee have sought out new partners who may be interested in the Moorbank site for educational and horticultural purposes. To that end, we had pulled together a business plan with Northumberland College, for them to use Moorbank as a satellite site for their horticultural and other land based management courses. The Friends of Moorbank would have been allowed to continue volunteering, whilst also assisting with increasing the availability of the garden to members of the public. This plan was turned down by the Freemen as they do not wish to issue a lease to a third party, and would prefer to manage the garden themselves.

The committee have also been approached by The Sainsbury’s Trust, who have offered funding for three years to support Moorbank’s transition from a University department to a more public facing facility. This funding would cover all the utility and other direct costs, which would have given the garden the breathing space to build up income from visitors and other sources of funding. Despite the committee offering to put together a full application for this funding on behalf of the Freemen, we have received no reply to them about this proposal.

In addition, we have received political support from the Council, which unanimously passed a motion to support Moorbank. They have requested a meeting between the Freemen, the Council and the Executive Committee to plan the future of Moorbank. As yet, we have had no response from the Freemen about this request. We have also had support from 38 Degrees, the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, the Journal and potential financial support from individuals.

Newcastle University need to start relocating the plants soon, although a number of them are not suitable to move to another site due to their size and tangled roots, or they are not of interest. As such, a significant number of plants in the Tropical House and Desert House (not owned by the University anyway) are likely to be left in situ at the end of November. We have not received any assurances from the Freemen that heating and water will be provided to these plants after this date, so it’s looking quite dire for them.

The University lease expires on the 30th November, and we have no clear idea of the Freemen’s plans for the site after this date. The University have pledged to leave all the plants in place if we can care for them, but the Freemen have not revealed whether they will continue to heat and water the plants in the glasshouses. Time is now tight, and we need help in how to advance the situation.

If there is anything you can help with, we can send more information to you, contacts we have made and other facts if you need them. Any suggestions for how to advance this situation are welcome. Please email us at moorbankbotanicgarden@gmail.com.

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