Council backs call for Ashbrook reinstatement

Colr. McKeever and others at the gates of the Ashbrook facility.
Colr. McKeever and others at the gates of the Ashbrook facility.

SDLP Councillor Jim Mc Keever has called on the Western Trust to provide funding to re-open the Ashbrook Garden Centre at Ardmore.

Colr. McKeever made the call after a motion he tabled before Derry & Strabane Council received unanimous backing. The council will now liaise with the Western Trust to seek the re-establishment of the Ashbrook at Risk Adults Growing Project under its own autonomy.

The Ashbrook horticultural social enterprise, which provided training opportunities for adults with learning disabilities, closed recently after a decision by its operator New Horizons Partnership.

Colr. McKeever said he was saddened by the decision: “For over 30 years it has provided vulnerable adults experience and training in the world of horticulture in a peaceful and safe setting,” he said. “It has been invaluable to their development, has actually improved health outcomes and it is an absolute shame that it has closed.

“The centre was an innovative social enterprise hosting numerous programmes with the Probation Board, local schools, youth clubs and even had several successful tenders with Derry City & Strabane District Council for the provision of flowers and hanging baskets. I was involved with this project since its inception over three decades ago and am of the firm opinion that the Ashbrook Garden Centre’s closure should only be temporary. I am calling on the Trust to fund Ashbrook as a stand-alone facility.”

He said work had already begun to establish a management committee from a pool of parents and supporters.