Fence plan to stop garden trespassers

By Richard Wright

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Fence plan to stop garden trespassers

John Curtis, head of the Community Interest Company that runs Ventnor Botanic Garden.

FENCES will be erected at Ventnor Botanic Garden to stop people sneaking in without paying.

Businessman John Curtis, who heads the community interest company which owns the Isle of Wight attraction, has been shocked at the number of people avoiding paying the £6.75 admission fee.

With annual estimated visitor totals at just 55,000 — well below the current number needed to break even — he has reluctantly decided to strengthen fences.

He was finally persuaded following an altercation between a trespasser and a legitimate visitor in which the visitor was upset by being cajoled — for being honest.

"People would not expect to be able to gain admission to other Island attractions without paying," he said.

A 50-year masterplan for the garden’s development was expected to include initial submissions for grant aid, philanthropic support and corporate sponsorship totalling up to £3 million.

Mr Curtis said he had pumped in capital investment of more than £300,000 in 18 months — more than the Isle of Wight Council did in the preceding ten years.

For more on this story, please see the Isle of Wight County Press on Friday, January 31.

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk


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Displaying the last 10 of 41 comments - Show All Comments

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by Roger Grey

31st January 2014, at 14:30:01

Yes Terry I might just be surprised as you say. I don't have any experience of running a large enterprise like this (do you?) but I can do basic arithmetic.
From the published figures it seems they need something like £300 - 400,000 year to cover the costs of running the place. What would you call a 'nominal sum'? Let's say a pound a head. They would have to get a thousand visitors through the gate every day of the year, winter and summer alike. It's quite clear that there were never such numbers even when the entrance was 'free'.
I don't envy the people trying to keep the garden open, it seems like an almost impossible task and some local residents seem to take pleasure in trying to drag it down. Will they be pleased to see closed and become a building site for 'second homes'? I doubt it.

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by Terry Dalley

31st January 2014, at 05:51:39

Asking this exorbitant price just to walk around a garden in this day and particularly in the climate of struggling as we all are is the obvious answer to why the have few idiots who will pay to do this .
It is just a garden mate you can dress it up as much as you like but that is all it is so charge a nominal sum and you just might be surprised.

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by neil jacks

30th January 2014, at 22:03:10

sorry remind me what do I get for the entrance fee?

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by Roger Grey

30th January 2014, at 21:54:32

"There are plenty of other parks as you say, and I'm more than happy to use those instead. For free. Gratis. Nowt. Zero. Ziltch."
No Baz they are not free. You don't pay to go in, but if you are a council tax payer you are paying for them all whether you go in or not, just as you were for VBG. There is no such thing as a free park.
If the council need to save more money, the Ventnor Town Park could be next.

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by Roger Grey

30th January 2014, at 21:47:39

"Didn't we pay for the plants when the council ran this place?"
Yes Peter we paid for the plants and for the staff salaries and everything else. That's why it was "free" to go in. But since the Council dropped it to save on our council tax, the costs have to come from somewhere else.

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by neil jacks

30th January 2014, at 13:54:54

I have been going there since I was a boy but would never consider paying. Oh and the myth of the micro climate..i am sure it will live on.

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by Baz Taylor

30th January 2014, at 10:30:37

Thank for the info Patrick, but it's still a park as far as I'm concerned. There are plenty of other parks as you say, and I'm more than happy to use those instead. For free. Gratis. Nowt. Zero. Ziltch.

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by James McAdder

30th January 2014, at 10:01:47

I think John Curtis has badly misjudged his market. While everything Patrick Hall says is undoubtedly true, most prospective visitors DO merely view the Botanic Gardens as a pleasant park.

Building the fence won't make people pay the entrance fee. They will just go elsewhere.

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by john jones

30th January 2014, at 09:32:48

my family and I settled in ventnor 6 years ago and made almost weekly walks along the coastal path to the gardens. we enjoyed yesterdays scones sold for 50p and had many a picnic. when we first saw the charges we were shocked. there is no way we can afford to go once let alone once a week. our daughter worked in the kitchens for a season and like many of the other young girls working there was used by the owners until they couldn't take any more and like our daughter left. surly the owner wants local people to visit the gardens all year round especially when there are no tourists here. if locals were allowed in free out of season they would willingly donate towards the upkeep of the gardens and use the restaurant.

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by Patrick Hall

30th January 2014, at 09:12:50

Firstly, as far as I am aware the proposed fence will not block the public right of way.
VBC has a unique micro-climate for plants and contains hundreds of species which would not thrive elsewhere. Much of the original planting was provided due to the generosity of the late Sir Harold Hillier, one of the greatest horticulturalists within living memory and many unusual plants and trees have been purchased or donated since. The least we can do is look after this amazing garden (not a park), which costs alot of money to run. I for one appreciate the importance of the plants there and am glad to pay my admission fee.
If it's free entry you want, I thoroughly recommend the beautifully maintained Ventnor Park, for somewhere to walk or sit for a while in pleasant surroundings.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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