Huge drop in visitor numbers at Ventnor Botanic Garden since changing hands

Visitor numbers for 2013 are in stark contrast to the years before when the Garden was run by the council.

Ventnor Botanic Garden

In a recent email from John Curtis, (head of the Ventnor Botanic Garden – VBG), to Friends of the VBG, he wrote that visitor numbers for 2013 were between 40,000 – 50,000.

Several readers have asked OnTheWight how this compares with visitor numbers prior to the Garden being signed over to Mr Curtis’ Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2012.

Significant drop in visitors
The Isle of Wight council were able to confirm:

April 2009 – March 2010 saw 265,000 visitors

April 2010 – December 2010 saw 224,000 visitors

It’s not hard to see these are in stark contrast to the visitor numbers revealed by Mr Curtis last month.

The introduction of entrance fees
As he’d warned prior to signing the 125 year lease, Mr Curtis introduced entry charges to the Garden, not only for holiday makers, but also Islanders.

Although understandable as necessary to mitigate against the previous annual loss of £250,000, this was met by many Islanders with considerable anger.

The first year saw a large menu of confused pricing, but this seemed to be tackled in the second year, with the options appearing a little more concise, if not still slightly confusing to some.

Fencing and gates
Mr Curtis also erected locked gates and some fencing around the Garden, which we’re told has made it impossible – even for Friends – to stroll the Garden in the evenings.

He recently told Friends he was disappointed with persistent trespassing and that, “We are being forced to install fences, not our preferred strategy,” although many of the gates around the garden were installed in 2012.

Image: Garry Knight under CC BY 2.0

Friday, 28th February, 2014 5:29pm

By

ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2bF4

Filed under: Isle of Wight News, Top story, Tourism, Ventnor

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

Leave your Reply

127 Comments on "Huge drop in visitor numbers at Ventnor Botanic Garden since changing hands"

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Email updates?
retired Hack

It would be instructive to know how the 40-50,000 figure compares to what Mr Curtis predicted as his footfall when he presented his business case to the IWC prior to taking the Gardens over. Obviously fewer people were going to pay than had gone in for nothing. But were his expectations realistic or were they flawed?

dogpog

Sadly, this is likely to go the way of the Winter Gardens, the Islanders left with a derelict building site.
I presume, once Mr Curtis properly works out the footfall,he’ll see his tax free investment may not be so great..

Cynic

Presumably the CIC will not approach the Friends to fund the fences etc?

dogpog

Well lets hope not-they prefer to invest in Mediterranean dining plazas.
I understand that there has to be a complete visitor experience but what about the garden itself?

Island Monkey

So, if he had charged £1 per person and kept the previous visitor numbers, he would have made a profit because his new management plan meant lower operating costs. We can see the actual admission price charged was much too high, killing off much of the previous demand. This is poor economics and decision making isn’t it?

steve s

It would be interesting to know how IWC calculated their visitor numbers before the imposition of charges. Wouldn’t that have been significantly more difficult than at present? Would it have been linked to parking?

retired Hack
To answer my own question, above: This from the CIC Bid Document, submitted to the IWC Cabinet on May 22, 2012, under the heading of “key assumptions”. “~75,000 visitors for 2012/2013 (believe actual visitor numbers are substantially lower than Council estimates)” (The mathematical symbol ~ indicates “approximately”. ) This suggests Mr Curtis’s estimate was between 50% and 87.5% on the optimistic side. There is plenty more in… Read more »
tryme

It does, very beguiling!

dogpog

I think that’s what the council signed up to -ie , our representatives-were we sold a pup?

Cynic
In fairness, it might be the other way around! The CIC itself might have been sold a pup by the previous IWC during its indecent haste to dispose of public assets as soon as possible, mostly by Delegated Decisions. The CIC’s directors might well have taken on the VBG challenge with all the best intentions to save the Garden but have subsequently discovered the underlying problems of… Read more »
tryme
I see what you mean Cicero, but I don’t feel that sorry for the CIC, (as long as IWC didn’t withold essential information, of course, or distorted it). A good business person won’t be pushed into something just because someone wants to off-load as quickly as possible. As naiive as I am, as soon as I realise I’m being pushed to complete a transaction, even I smell… Read more »
Cynic

@tryme. You would be surprised how “good business people” make decisions for extraneous reasons that they later regret.

tryme

You could be right, because I suppose they are more likely to be risk-takers than I am!

Ronald Regan

Place is a ghost town with absolutely noting to do for children. Playground is a old rusty deck with uncut grass in there you’d want a goat with you to find the swing. And no children food to be seen on the menu either. And £6.50 to get in???

binnel ghost
I am not sure what the entry fees now are but to ask locals who were used to the free experience to pay a significant entry fee was always a flawed concept.My friends and family who have been to the gardens in the last year are appalled at how rundown they are now and the laughable argument that you pay to go to Kew is ridiculous. Kew… Read more »
Cynic

If the VBG footfall has really dropped from 200k to 40k visitors, what has been the collateral impact on the general economy of the Ventnor area, says in food establishments, bars, shops etc?

Adam

Sally/Simon – may I suggest a FOI request for the revenue from the car park for the last year of IWC operation may produce an interesting insight?

Jacqui

We loved going to the gardens and went half a dozen times a year and when friends came to stay we always took them. Can’t afford it now. Such a shame…

Ronald Regan

And mark my word come July the admission price will rise again like it did last July from £5.50 to £6.75. So next stop £7.50???

tryme

Talking about past evening walks, I remember an absolutely magical night walk when a friend and I had the run of the place, and white blooms of all wonderful sorts shone luminously out of the dark at us … What a privilege to have been trusted with that freedom.

A Sad supporter
As I have said many times before in past comments this issue lies entirely with the management at the top, the entire project was flawed from the outset because of a total lack of understanding of peoples wants and needs. Get the public on your side and your business will be successful, get the publics back up and you are onto a loser instantly. I just do… Read more »
tryme
Without the high entrance charge, the reported deterioration of the garden, and the bunker mentality that I have come to associate with the running of the place, I would have gone there a number of times since the change and felt lighthearted enough to splash out on good food, plants, talks and beautiful shop items. You suddenly make me think your suggestion is the ony one that… Read more »
tryme

… By ‘us’ I mean the Island public generally, not specifically OTW. And communication could be by a right-hand person who is good at it, if he as an individual is not.

dogpog

They have a marketing department? I thought that Curtis himself produced these misspelled and clumsy paragraphs which have become a feature of their newsletters, press releases and advertising.
I presume whoever it is must be there on work experience.
I’m in receipt of their latest newsletter-‘there’s’ instead of ‘there are’..I could go on..
I sincerely hope he’s not investing in this at the expense of garden staff.

Former Friend
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Sad Supporter. John Curtis doesn’t seem to have recognised the importance of having islanders on his side. As soon as people spoke out about the charges and fences and gates, he should have noted this and taken immediate action to bring everyone back on side. As you say, the anger about the situation is because people love the… Read more »
tryme

It is indeed an indicator, Sad supporter, if there is no ferry video, where there is a captive audience to draw in.

davidwalter

The fall in numbers needs to be looked at against the numbers in other outdoor attractions nearby targeted at a similar demography. Really needs someone with a stats background to look at it. Surely someone in the area could spare a few hours? Ask via the TC?

lpr
A good number of the 265,000 visitors in 2010 would be walking through the garden, from the car park, as a pleasant detour on the way to Steephill Cove. They should never really have been counted as visitors to the garden, it’s just an easier way to get to the beach with the kids. I can buy an annual family pass to Kew for £88. Been there… Read more »
Peter Whiteman
This is extremely sad and I’m sorry to say Mr Curtis has got it wrong by charging to go in, as you only charge for a quality visitor attraction. This is now far from that, as it lacks investment and the vision to make it that. Its original concept was, it was given to the people of the island as a public park and after significant investment… Read more »
tryme

Is there anyone left there who would notice and report any sudden absences of rare and valuable plants, were that to happen …

dogpog

The basis of his bid was that he invest £800,00 over a five year period.I understand the actual investment to date has been about £80,000, and this is with much reduced staffing compared to IWC days-I would estimate there are about 50% less gardening/nursery staff.
Surely, if Curtis is not fulfilling the terms of his bid, the IWC should look at this again?

Ronald Regan

Garden staff reduced from 6 to 3. Nursery staff reduced from 3 to 1.

dogpog

Not only that, from memory the lottery grant was for a publicly accessible visitor centre which it clearly is no longer.

davimel
So we ALL lose now! What a shame that our fears are now well founded. As a family we had great days out at VBG with the young ‘uns dashing about then going to Steephill for a paddle as we enjoyed a coffee and butty from the café and I enjoyed a wander to the Cricket pitch for a lazy couple of hours… Bliss! We paid for… Read more »
tryme
Who is the Cabinet member who deals with Recreation on the Island, and can s/he respond about the contractual issues raised here? We have had only a deathly silence from the Indies, so far as I recall from previous VBG topics over the past few months. Perhaps that is understandable, given that they have had to focus on thrashing out a Budget for the year, but now… Read more »
phil jordan
@Tryme: The cabinet member would be Cllr Shirley Smart. I can only speak for myself but…. I do not have sufficient detailed knowledge of this to make sensible comment at this point. Like many others, no doubt, before last May I was disgusted by the disposal of the Gardens in the way they were disposed of. I would like to think that had the situation arisen at… Read more »
nomisk
What a sad sad shame. So many good and truthful comments on here – and to quote just one davimel’s comment “Damn everyone who allowed and encouraged this to happen”, quite so. I had been visiting VBG for over 20 years whist on holiday to The Island. I was shocked at the sale and introduction of charges for visitors and I commented on them at the time.… Read more »
phil jordan

@tryme:

On second thoughts…. this could be both a resources issue (Jon Gilbey) or a legal issue (jonathan Bacon)…or both.

Or all three….!

Giving some idea as to the possible complexity of the issue..!

tryme
You’re a star, Phil! As usual. Many thanks for responding, and for starting to think about these issues. (See also previous VBG topics in the last couple of months). We have no idea at this point whether something constructive will come of it, but it’s clear that many will be hugely relieved that this heartfelt resource may now be looked at closely. If the way forward turns… Read more »
A sad supporter
There will never be confidence from the top as long as John Curtis is there, the man exudes arrogance and egotism. Every time I have spoken to this man he speaks to you as if you are a child, he has ideas far beyond his capabilities and his grasp of what the garden needs to be is one million miles away from what it should actually be,… Read more »
tryme

Well let’s hope the councillors involved have a good read here first, through the several, fairly recent VBG topics here. I’m sure Phil will.

It’s not about prejudicing them in advance, but so they realise the range of concerns.

tryme

Search OTW for ‘Ventnor Botanic Garden’, and be sure not to put an ‘S’ on the end!

retired Hack
Might a starting point be for all three of those Cabinet members (and others) to be invited to re-read the CIC Bid Document; discover to what extent, if any, it has been deviated from; and then explore what remedies are available to the IWC, in its agreement with the CIC, to deal with any such deviations. My fear is that, such was the haste of the last… Read more »
tryme
For the benefit of any councillors who are joining us at this point, the only post in support of John Curtis over the last 2 long threads on the subject of VBG, turned out to be from an imposter stealing the name of someone working at the Garden. Unusually, there has been no debate between different points of view here – it has been uniformly full of… Read more »
A sad supporter
I am still concerned by the allegations of cash payments for workers on building projects. I was a friend at the time the garden was crammed full of builders, painters, carpenters, plastered et al and if they were all being paid cash in hand I wonder how the money was then claimed back from the council. I also wonder if the workers that built the plantation Room… Read more »
Cynic

It is very difficult to be upbeat in the presence of a dear friend who is patently dying with little hope of resuscitating.

Mike Vallender
How very sad this stream of comments has become. My own views on VBG over recent times have not necessarily been positive, for it has not been well run for many years, but this is reading very much as a loss of one of our most and best loved attractions on the Isle of Wight. The current state and management might be down to the present owner,… Read more »
tryme
There have been a lot of happy memories recounted here over several topic pages, Mike, as a close reading of comments shows. But there are current significant concerns, and they can’t be glossed over just to lighten the mood. And in fact, it is clear from people’s comments what kind of a place they would like VBG to be. The next step is to establish objectively what… Read more »
A sad supporter
Mike, I agree with you, however the subject upsets me so much at the moment I keep forgetting the good times of the garden. Before it was threatened it was an amazing space to spend time, then it went through a period of uncertainty when the public well and truly got behind it. John should have carried that backing on under his leadership but unfortunately he seems… Read more »
A sad supporter

I notice that John actually replied on the county press website. I wonder why he never replies on here.

http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/news/garden-launches-education-programme-52745.aspx

tryme

He told them they seem “deluded”! That was after a rather mild row of comments. Noone posted after he did.

He seems an angry man with a quick temper. His attitude is paramount for making VBG work and to spread a constructive spirit amongst staff …but look at him.

Mike Vallender
Thanks for that response, and I both appreciate and understand what you are saying. I agree that all of the above are positive thoughts of what needs to occur, but the small point I make is that each of your 6 points need consideration and perhaps implementation whether it is Mr Curtis, or any other person in charge of this environment. I have said previously that if… Read more »
tryme

You have mentioned many of the same wishes and concerns that have been discussed here, Mike.

A sad supporter
Indeed, education and community. The two exact things this CIC should be. The same two things it seems which it cannot get together in anyway whatsoever. A pleasure gardens it could indeed be again, I wonder if that is actually the thinly veiled plan. Do not forget most of the employees are ex council and have been employed for many years on good salaries. Removing the botanic… Read more »
tryme
How many paid employees are there, sad supporter? ‘Ronald Regan’ said “Garden staff reduced from 6 to 3. Nursery staff reduced from 3 to 1”. You’re not advocating that “removing the botanic element” would be desirable? Specialist botanic knowledge that gave VBG national and international connections and respect, and gave scope for local young people to start specialist careers (rather than becoming domestic gardeners only), would all… Read more »
A sad supporter
No, I am not advocating any such thing. I personally think it is what John would like though. I have heard him say before that if the friends want a Botanic garden then they can fund the Botanic side of the business. I think the island having a Botanic garden of excellence and somebody with Chris Kidd’s knowledge can only be a great asset. Regarding staff, this… Read more »
tryme

Thanks, sad supporter, I see what you mean. I’m glad if these staff won’t be easily removed, (unless any leave of their own accord for any reason), as they will be sorely needed for any plan that will lift the Garden.

retired Hack

If Mr Curtis’s view really is: “If the friends want a Botanic garden then they can fund the Botanic side of the business,” then that (a) tells us a great deal about his mindset, and (b) is a view which should be compared to the undertakings he gave when he was allowed to take the Garden over.

dogpog
As far as I’m aware, these are the people who left under the Curtis regime. Chef Sous chef Gardener Volunteer co-ordinator and supervisor Education Officer Shop assistant, possibly 2 Cafe staff It’s another reason why I won’t renew my Friends membership.I don’t want to support this sort of regime.Remaining staff are clearly unhappy. I’m no business man but one of the first things I learned on my… Read more »
Mike Vallender
That made me :-) I am not saying stop it being a Botanic Garden though, what I am saying is that as a person living on the island, I am not necessarily interested in learning about plants from Australia, New Zealand and other warmer climates, what I believe others are more interested in is how to manage their gardens correctly in tough financial times ( consider the… Read more »
A Sad supporter

Indeed, focus is exactly what is needed and is sorely lacking.

Mike Vallender
tryme I know there a lot of positive comments for I have been reading and considering what has been written. However there is equally a lot of more recent comments that are more “Lets try and run down further this persons management and attempts, than what he might be trying achieve………..” I am not trying to repeat the positive comments of previous contributors, purely asking that we… Read more »
Cynic

If things are obviously going wrong, is it not wise to try to find out why they are so doing and try to correct the problem?

tryme
I think we are dancing on the head of a pin, Mike. I don’t think anyone has come near to saying what you have put in inverted commas. What has actually been happening is that people have been breaking cover to say what they have observed and/or know, regarding their well-loved Garden. In the absence of response from the CIC, the concerns have increased, and we hope… Read more »
Mike Vallender
Cicero, how very sad can we get. I fully agree that the the future might not be bright at present, and could be a lot better, but there is always the hope that the future will improve. Words in previous comments like consultation are positive, so is community. education and so on. Perhaps there needs to be a request for a consultation group that has itemised thoughts… Read more »
Mike Vallender
Cicero yes it is, and their appears a definite need to do this, but the buck does not stop there. If I agree that things are going wrong, I would hope there is also need to investigate and implement ways that potential improvements can be put in place. Their are a lot of good suggestions being made, but unless listened too and considered by those that can… Read more »
tryme

You have evidently missed the calls previously made here for consultation, Mike.

And also, it seems, the practical steps being taken to find out whether they can be listened to. Do catch up!!

Cynic
Does not the “buck” stop with the CIC’s decision-maker? Some people might consider that many recent decisions have resulted in exacerbating the VBG’s decline that started with the last IWC using the Garden as a cash cow while refusing to invest in its upkeep. Fulfillment of the great hopes (and promises?) of the CIC seems to be receding in the future (if ever). What is required IMHO… Read more »
A sad supporter
I think it is indicative of the regime that is in control that the only forum open to people right now to communicate is OnTheWight. I am fairly certain that there are some staff members making comment over the last few weeks, if they were allowed to communicate their feelings in other ways then I am sure they would. As an ex friend I certainly felt that… Read more »
Mike Vallender
Cicero, you have now just highlighted the buck as being in two areas. The CLC for the current situation and the IWC for times previous to that, and I, too a point agree with both of those. Positive results need practical implementation in the future, in other words, time, resources and direction from all those that are practically involved with the ongoing business /project. A Sad Supporter,… Read more »
tryme

I don’t think you have added any ‘bones’, Mike, but perhaps you now understand the situation better, which is good.

tryme

Does anyone understand why a lovely warm photo of Monty Don flashes up very briefly, as the very first thing you see when going onto the VBG website, and also clicking onto ‘Home’?

Linda Chester

I think you find the answer to that on the Isle of Arts 2014 Festival website!

tryme

Thanks Linda! The photo keeps appearing and disappearing very quickly before you can open it up, whenever you click on ‘Home’, giving the almost subliminal effect that Monty Don is the man running VBG! In fact it is about a talk he is to give in May.

Linda Chester

Yes Monty’s appearance is the opening event of the Isle of Arts 2014 Festival and VBG have sponsored this event. It is taking place in the Festival’s marquee on Salisbury Gardens – not at VBG which their website seems to infer by not even mentioning the Festival! Go to the IOA14 site for full details of the amazing programme of all the weekends events.

tryme

If one clicks on VBG’s ‘What’s On’ and looks thro the months, Monty and the Festival come up under May. But it’s rather hidden away there. You’d be lucky to realise it was happening then.

tryme

I see, also from the VBG website, that “Admission includes parking and access to Steephill Cove”.

I take it then, that there is no other way to access Steephill Cove than via admission to VBG. Two attractions in one. I wonder if IWC included that in their thinking when transferring the Garden.

retired Hack

That’s certainly the impression given on VBG’s website, and it is, of course, completely wrong. Access to Steephill Cove is available by public right of way from the main road. Parking is also available on the main road, once you get away from the yellow lines outside the Gardens. And by the way, are those yellow lines really needed any more?

Mike Vallender

tryme, my understanding of this discussion group has been, and still is good, not blame placing and negative, neither have I put anything in inverted commas.

I have made suggestions that show an understanding of the subject and ways in which might the future be approached and looked at for improvement. Sorry you take exception to that contribution.

tryme

I have pointed out things I think you
missed/didn’t realise, Mike, which is something that may need to happen when any of us makes a contribution.

Cynic

Your input is obviously welcome Mike but I am not sure that you do really understand the problem.

Many commentators here have had long-term personal involvement with VBG prior to the CIC’s taking it over and recognise, often with dismay, the changes that are being made. A Pollyanna attitude is comforting but not very useful in the long run.

retired Hack

Mike, I think the inverted commas Tryme was referring to were in your 1102am comment of today when you summarised others’ attitudes as ““Lets try and run down further this persons management and attempts, than what he might be trying achieve………..” (sic)

Mike Vallender

Thanks retired Hack’s. I did realize that but was processing a summary of the general tone of this forum, which I believe was, and is correct.

tryme

So ” … neither have I put anything in inverted commas …” wasn’t actually the case then. Apology accepted!

keith99
FACT NOT SPECULATION The following is from a paper I prepared in January 2011 as a member of the other group bidding to run Ventnor Botanic Garden. Our Client Base – Annual figures “Majority of visitors (67%) come from the mainland with rising number of European visitors (11%). Islanders make some 48,000 visits; many are repeat visits, up to five per annum. 53% of visitors are over… Read more »
Cynic

Perhaps Keith99 would also like to tell us how many of the 700+ or so Friends registered as member two years ago (i.e. when the CIC took over) are still on the books and prepared to support VBG with funds and volunteer work?

Ronald Regan

Less than 300 friends registered as friends now

A sad supporter
Thank you for the Facts of 1996. Almost 20 years on and I can assure you there has been a significant drop in visitor numbers. No matter what statistics we pull out you only have to visit the garden on a regular basis to ascertain this knowledge. Where as the car park would be full to burst virtually every weekend and the road would be difficult to… Read more »
Colin
The Botanic garden will never be a sustainable entity as it stands; it was never ever likely to be successful as a pay-to-enter attraction as was said by many at the time. Before CIC it was a pleasant, inexpensive way of spending an afternoon in an attractive garden. It was paid for through the Council tax and was seen as an amenity for Ventnor. It attracted plenty… Read more »
keith99

Again Cicero I do not speculate as I am not a member of the Friends management team. If you want to know the numbers get in touch with the Membership Secretary.

Cynic

@keith99 Is not presenting statistics from 18 years ago as evidence speculating a correlation with the present?

retired Hack
There seem to be two parts to keith99’s contribution: (1) some figures from 1996, which we’ve no reason to doubt and which suggest a total footfall similar to the 250,000 suggested by the IWC for before the takeover; and (2) an assertion about the IWC’s recent methodology which he doesn’t substatiate. I’m not sure how further forward that takes us, although I agree with A Sad Supporter… Read more »
Cynic

A more recent source of information might be the CIC Bid Document(May 2012)- available on the IWC website- that contains a business plan assuming visitors numbers as follows:
(2011/12) 75000,
(2012/13) 85000
(2013/14) 100000.

(The CIC Business Plan also commented “We have reviewed the original Business Plan submitted with the Millennium Grant application and do not believe the visitor numbers forecast there are attainable.”)

retired Hack

It’s also worth noting that the Bid Document also recorded the fact that the CIC believed that visitor numbers, at the time of the Bid, were “substantially lower than council estimates”. From this it follows that the CIC was not relying on those estimates when it made its own projections for visitor numbers. Its own estimates were, therefore, spectacularly optimistic.

dogpog

Those figures were based on a free entry garden, there’s no way they’d be attainable now, particularly, as another poster has pointed out, the garden is all but invisible, apart from Islanders who know it.

keith99
Cicero, read my comments again. Though the IOWC’s figures were from old data I stated in January 2011 “and in reality the figures if you take the middle ground were around 60,000”, this figure was estimated from other data such as car parking receipts and general sales. It would be very helpful to have accurate data. The Friends commenced a programme of monitoring visitor numbers over a… Read more »
Cynic

Perhaps OTW will asks how many Friends are currently registered?

Ronald Regan

The friends membership last I heard had sunk well below the 300 mark

tryme
Davimel, your post yesterday March 1st at 12.33 says “the place is a wreck and not even a shadow of its former glory! …it will never be [the] same place …” I myself, only from the point of view of a punter on the outside, and not directly privy to any inner workings of the place, wouldn’t go so far as to say that. I went there… Read more »
davimel
The main point of my post was to try and show just how much the whole experience has changed from my point of view Tryme, and reading your description of your experience does, (in my mind), bolster that opinion. I fail to see just how restricting access to large areas, stopping entry and egress to enjoy the whole area (Cricket club, Steephill etc.) and now fencing the… Read more »
tryme
I’m happy to accept that you have a longer standing and more accurate memory of VBG than do I, davimel, and that losses are more evident to you. It’s important you give us that perspective so we are aware of what has changed. My point, though, was to quote something from what you said, and then to say that from what I saw I didn’t find the… Read more »
Isha

Even the closing of the gates in the evenings will be contributing a great deal to the fall in visitor numbers, since even people who are willing to pay the entrance fee are no longer going to turn up later in the day.

tryme
Good point Isha. The opening times are advertised as “Open 10am every day all year, closed New Years Day” (sic) – a nice day to visit, surely; last entry 4pm. Yet it also says “call before you visit to check our opening times”. Not very encouraging. I was told it closed at 4. And I don’t think you know a garden unless you can experience it at… Read more »
Cynic

It’s a trade-off against the risk of thieves driving in and stealing rare plants- remember the theft of the Tasmanian ferns a few years ago which the thieves later dumped because they had been micro-chipped?

VBG visitors frequently ruin plants by hamfistedly stealing a cutting.

tryme

Carry on microchipping then! The “trade-off” needs to be in favour of public useage, which I believe has been, by and large, very respectful without a lot of cordoning off and short hours, for many years. Show trust and most respond well. The occasional loss is well worth it.

Cynic

Tasmanian tree fern costs about £150 and is big enough and worthwhile protecting to take a chip. Rare puyas and other flowers, although worth protecting, are generally not big enough.

block8
Some of the happiest memories I have of bringing up my young family, (many years ago now), were our regular evening trips to the Gardens. Half an hour on the slides, a wander through the gardens and then a drink by the fish pond. My boys repeated this when they grew up and had their own families. These gardens were ours and we were proud of them.… Read more »
Anon
This comment was originally left in the name of John Curtis. We’ve contacted him and he claims it wasn’t by him, so we’ve changed the name to Anon. We’ve also set the system to capture comments left under the name John Curtis, so they won’t be published without being verified – Ed. I am appalled at what I am reading, the CIC is working very hard to… Read more »
A sad supporter
Thank you for spending the time to respond John. In reference to your invite to come by, no thanks! I have been many times, I have said everything I intend on saying to either yourself or Chris Kidd. There is nothing more for me to say. The onus is on your company to sort out these issues and bring VBG back to the glorious Botanic garden it… Read more »
phil jordan
@John Curtis: Thank you John. As a Cabinet member of the IW Council I would like to take up your offer to meet to discuss some of the issues that may, or may not, have been raised in these discussions and to understand a little more about your plans. My details are on the IWC website but for brevity I include them here: Tel: 07964 869325 email:… Read more »
retired Hack
John, here’s a question you ought to be able to deal with fairly simply. When the CIC bid for the Garden, you made it clear that you didn’t accept the Council’s estimate of current visitor numbers (you said so in the Bid Document). Yet you predicted an annual footfall of 75,000. The actual figure, you now tell us, has been 40,000 to 50,000. That’s a very significant… Read more »
Man in Black
Great points well made Retired Hack. Labelling people who ask questions as trolls is the classic deflection used by those who find the questions uncomfortable. It’s also insulting to the many people who have commented here sharing their views and opinions about how they see the gardens failing. When is John Curtis going to listen to the wider public and start to embrace them, rather than show… Read more »
Cynic
Could I add a couple of questions for PJ to ask JC? 1. Precisely how much of the CIC’s “own hard earned cash” has been invested in the garden over the last year (i.e. expenditure excluding draw-downs for repairs from IWC and funding from the Friends) 2.In which projects was that CIC cash invested? [At this stage, I tend to believe JC when he claims to be… Read more »
dogpog

What do you mean by the comments are ‘made up’? Do you mean that they are not made by real people or the comments themselves are false?

Cynic

Impostor well caught Sal!

Cynic

Is this not the second time an impostor has tried to wreck the OTW discussion on OTW? One wonders who and why!

greenfiremouse
My comment may be slightly off target, but I would like to mention that one of my comments about a couple of weeks ago on a different subject seemed to have disappeared overnight. Could there be a connection between this, the above comment (by someone misrepresenting him/herself as someone else) and the fact that the CP today disabled all of their comment facilities due to the fact… Read more »
RJC

What! put their heads above the parapet. You’ll have a long wait John.

tryme
I don’t think the post on the CP website has been denied by John Curtis, yet it’s been up there since mid-Feb; and has been referred to on this thread. It has the same tone as the ones he now denies here. Odd that noone has drawn the sites to his attention till now. Also, the ‘imposter’ post on a previous thread here had much the same… Read more »
tryme

Perhaps John will now send us a verified post that answers our queries and concerns.

tryme

I must say that Anon (3rd March 12.17pm) certainly sounds very heartfelt about the CIC, and therefore close to it, whoever they are.

davimel

Judging by the strength of feeling about VBG should anyone actually take up ‘anons’ offer to, ‘come and see me and I would be all too happy to show you’ it may well improve both the visitor numbers and income in the short term!
At £6.50 a throw to discuss the state of the place I would expect at least Dinner and a plant or two!

dogpog

I suspect a lecture about what a great business man he is again….zzzz…I’ve been to so many design walks where this is the sole theme, never mind his lectures, sorry,’inspiring and motivational’ talks to the volunteers.

Braveheart
In the year 1970, the former site of the ‘Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest’ was redeveloped as ‘Steephill Pleasure Gardens’ later Sir Harold Hillier became involved and with extensive development began creating a Botanical Garden and in 1972 it was officially renamed as the ‘Ventnor Botanic Garden’ after the demise of Sir Harold Hillier in 1985, VBG was then donated to the Isle of… Read more »