IT WAS a double victory for the town centre this week as the begrudged barriers were removed – the same day Farnham in Bloom scooped five top awards.

The results of this year’s South and South East in Bloom competition saw judges awarding Farnham in Bloom gold in the large town category, gold in the town centre, gold for Badshot Lea Cemetery and gold for Gostrey Meadow – which Farnham Town Council has been managing for less than a year.

To complete the results, Farnham received Silver Gilt for the West Street Cemetery and the Victoria Garden, with space2grow also winning an ‘outstanding’ award in the It’s Your Neighbourhood category.

Councillor Sally Dickson, lead member for Farnham in Bloom said: “This year was probably one of the most challenging in Farnham in Bloom’s 30-year history, so I am delighted with the result which belongs to our wonderful volunteers, amazing community, fantastic sponsors and outside workforce who put in extra socially-distanced effort during lockdown.

“Everybody worked really hard to make Farnham bloom this year and to bring a bit of floral cheer to people’s day to day lives.”

The awards announcement was closely followed by a statement by Farnham Town Council leader John Neale, on Friday (September 11), confirming the barriers in the town centre would be removed that evening.

It marks the end of an ongoing dispute surrounding the state of the town centre – with town councillors previously hitting out at the “wretched” measures.

Following the removal of the barriers and the introduction of additional planters, Cllr Neale said: “Our reaction and the feedback we have received from the public has generally been positive. We are all glad to see the removal of the metal barriers and their replacement by the lighter touch installation defined by the planters.

“It is our intention to see how the current scheme is working and we expect to make some adjustments to make improvements where we can. We have to take account of pedestrians, road users, disabled people, delivery vehicles, buses and, of course, the needs of the town centre businesses.

“We are also, in conjunction with Surrey County Council, trying to reduce the problems caused by heavy vehicles.

“Last Saturday, more people were coming back to the town centre and the cafes were getting busier. Let’s hope we don’t see any spread of the pandemic in our town, so that we can all get back and support our retail businesses.”