FRODSHAM’S Best Kept Gardens competition has become the first casualty of a cost-cutting drive by the new-look town council.

For more than 20 years the authority has earmarked funds to present prizewinners with certificates and garden centre vouchers as a way of rewarding green-fingered residents who cheer up the town every summer with colourful front garden displays nominated by ward councillors.

As well as domestic gardens visible from the main highway, the competition, judged by an independent gardening expert, also included sections for best town council allotments and eye-catching hanging baskets outside homes and businesses.

However, councillors last week voted overwhelmingly to scrap this year’s competition following a proposal by veteran councillor Frank Pennington, who complained: “The same people are winning it all the while, that’s the trouble.”

Cllr Lynn Riley said: “The good people of Frodsham don’t need our encouragement to have the best gardens they can.”

Cllr Graham Bondi, one of just two councillors who voted to retain the competition, said: “It’s a shame, but the competition requires councillors to go round and look at gardens and they obviously prefer to take their efforts and priorities in a different direction.

“There are bigger issues to deal with and we’ll just have to get on with these, but I just hope we don’t start losing some of the other nice things we do that make Frodsham distinctive and a bit more caring.”

Cllr Dawson suggested the competition was “outdated.”

He said: “No-one likes cutting anything but councillors considered there had not been much enthusiasm for this competition in recent years.

“No-one is saying it’s cancelled for good but we’ve got to ask whether it’s worthwhile for Frodsham.

“It’s a matter of considering the council’s priorities and spending money in the right way.”

The move follows the former town council's decision to increase the value of competition prizes for 2011.