Britain in Bloom hopes for Leeds volunteers hit by ‘appalling’ £300 plant theft

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An “appalling” plant theft has left a south Leeds gardening group calling for their return ahead of a national competition.

A handful of palm plants worth around £300 have been stolen from a display planted by Woodlesford in Bloom weeks before they are due to represent Yorkshire in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom competition.

The greenery, taken from planters near the Maltings estate on the A642 Aberford Road on July 2 and 3, formed part of the gardening group’s bid for Gold in the contest’s Urban Community category.

A panel of judges are due to visit Woodlesford on August 12 to assess the village four years after it was awarded the Silver Gilt standard in its debut Britain in Bloom.

Peter Lovatt, treasurer of Woodlesford in Bloom, said: “It’s very disheartening but the number of people that have commented and said we’ve done a fantastic job is a positive we can take. There are some lovely people out there but the odd ones just try to spoil it.”

The large and expensive palms, which were wired into the planters for security, have been replaced by less valuable and exotic plants but the volunteers are urging locals to be vigilant in the hope they will be returned.

Several planting tubs were stolen from Woodlesford in 2006 before its first Yorkshire in Bloom contest and were tracked after a YEP appeal.

The gardening group has seen Woodlesford decorated with five Yorkshire in Bloom Golds, a Silver and a Silver Gilt in recent years, as well as the Britain in Bloom Silver Gilt.

Inspector Ian O’Brien, of West Yorkshire Police’s Outer South Neighbourhood Policing Team, wants anyone with information to come forward. He said: “This will have come as a real blow to the hard-working group of volunteers involved in Woodlesford In Bloom.”

Call 101 or email with information.