Hunt for mystery gardener illegally pruning park plants

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News

A mystery gardener who has been pruning plants in public gardens in Crawley is now being hunted by police.

The unknown lopper has struck at Crawley’s Memorial Gardens and at Northgate Parade where the plants pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ and camellia shrubs have been cut back.

Council Gardeners Tony Oldfield and  Andy Bull are frustrated at the damage caused to the Pittosporum Tom Thumb at Crawley Memorial Garden. Pic Steve Robards  SR1603950 SUS-160802-170654001

Council Gardeners Tony Oldfield and Andy Bull are frustrated at the damage caused to the Pittosporum Tom Thumb at Crawley Memorial Garden. Pic Steve Robards SR1603950 SUS-160802-170654001

Crawley Borough Council, which owns the gardens, has alerted police to the criminal clipper. Said a spokeswoman: “These shrubs are being cut at the wrong time of year so the pruner is not doing the council a favour.

“Instead he or she is having a negative impact on the look of the beautiful town centre park, which is gold rated by South East in Bloom.”

Council officers believe the pruner may be taking cuttings to sell.

Councillor Colin Lloyd, cabinet member for Environmental Services, said: “We’re not sure of the motives of this pruner but even if they are not doing it maliciously, they are having a detrimental impact on the visual beauty of the Memorial Gardens.

“These species should not be cut at this time of year. If we have another cold spell they could be seriously damaged.”

Council gardeners are not in the gardens after 3pm from Monday to Friday and not at weekends at the moment.

A Sussex Police spokesperson said: “Police have received a report of bushes and shrubs being cut without permission in Memorial Gardens, Crawley.

“The incident was reported at 2.14pm on Monday (1 February), though it is believed to have occurred sometime in the previous two weeks.

“Anyone with any information is asked to contact 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101, quoting serial 801 of 1/2.”