Floral theft anger grows

PUBLISHED: 16:16 17 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:30 10 June 2010

SUNDAY, AUGUST 17: TRADERS were left fuming as vandals ripped down hanging baskets which brightened Exeter Road and had helped lure custom all summer long. Floral tributes had helped give the Exmouth street dubbed 'Devon's best kept secret' in a Town Management backed pro

TRADERS were left fuming as vandals ripped down hanging baskets which brightened Exeter Road and had helped lure custom all summer long.Floral tributes had helped give the Exmouth street - dubbed 'Devon's best kept secret' in a Town Management backed promotional drive - a visual identity. But Friday morning was a forlorn sight for six businesses that saw baskets ripped to the ground, and in some cases stolen.Police are now working with images of offenders caught on CCTV, after thefts and damage at Curios, Belvedere Furnishings, Ballroom Blitz, Seymours, Curios, and Whiskers and Wagtails.Exeter Road committee member Ed Cattenach, owner of Belvedere Furnishings, said traders were "very disappointed". More than 35 businesses joined the Exeter Road scheme in May this year, paying £50 to join a committee promoting trade, and £25 for a matching hanging basket."We have all put a lot of effort into Exeter Road and this is just mindless vandalism," said Mr Cattenach. "Youngsters in the town get a bad press but, looking at the CCTV, they were adults who were responsible. I don't know if they were bored or had nothing else to do, or were drunk or thought it would be a laugh. We are all very disappointed."Whiskers and Wagtails manager Linda Davis said: "We have all tried to make people come to shop in Exeter Road, and it was really working. People would say the flowers look and smell lovely. "Then we get someone who does this. I'm really hurt as we have all tried. We need CCTV cameras up this end of the road"Grant Lumley, owner of Curios, added: "People moan about nothing being done for the town, but when we do, this happens."The flowers had boosted the town centre's charm in another victorious South West in Bloom campaign. The vandalism occurred the night after Britain in Bloom judges visited Exmouth for the first time in the national competition.Tracey Kirk, owner of Seymours, said: "It's a real shame - we were trying to make an effort for shoppers, retailers and for the competition."Exmouth Police said they were pursuing investigations from CCTV footage. Sergeant Nick Southern said police had requested two new CCTV cameras for Exeter Road and Manchester Street, but would need new funding to secure the equipment.

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