MINDLESS vandals have destroyed a riverside town’s award-winning floral displays.

Upton in Bloom chairman Jackie Surtees was shocked when she went for a walk along the waterfront and was confronted with the damage.

“I noticed there was a piece of flower on the ground and as I went to tidy it up and realised that some of the plants in the barrel had been damaged,” she said. “At first I thought it might be down to someone falling when drunk, as occasionally happens, but then I went to the next tub and the next and saw they had been damaged as well.”

Five displays were damaged in total, leaving gaping holes in the striking black and orange arrangements.

“It’s almost as if someone has got both their hands and just smashed into the plants,” said Mrs Surtees. “It was clearly not someone falling over in high spirits.

This was deliberate.”

The displays were part of Upton’s annual entry into Heart of England in Bloom, a competition in which the town has enjoyed great success, claiming gold awards every year since 2004 and being named overall winner in 2008.

Thankfully Upton’s entry was judged earlier in the summer, although that has provided Mrs Surtees with little consolation.

“It’s frustrating and annoying,”

she said. “We all put a lot of effort into raising the money to be able to do this for the good of the town, not to mention all the volunteer hours that go in to planting and maintaining these displays.”

The incident took place overnight on Saturday, August 25, when Upton was full of visitors attending the music festival on Fish Meadow.

Mrs Surtees said they would now seriously consider removing displays before major events.

“We thought about taking them away before the weekend but decided to leave them out because the visitors love them and we want to show them the town looking its best,” she said.

“We will have to think carefully next time, which is very sad, really.”

Police have been informed of the incident and anyone with information can call 101 quoting 112N260812.