RESIDENTS of Christchurch have been saddened and outraged after the 'garden' at the entrance of the Christchurch Household Recycling Centre has been removed.

The Dorset Waste Partnership said that the collection of donated plants and sculptures was removed after it began to attract “rats and other pests” and the clutter made the area “difficult to keep clean and litter free.

Many residents took to social media to vent their disappointment, with many saying the removal of the makeshift garden was a “great shame” and that the display at the entrance was a welcomed sight to the depo.

Michael Turvey said: “That is extremely disappointing and beggars belief. It put a smile on my face every time I visited. I cannot think of one reason why the Council would wish to I insist upon the removal of the collection.”

Julia Ratcliffe said: “For goodness sake, that's ridiculous. Always helpful there, what on earth harm could it do? And as people are saying, it cheers the place up and makes it welcome.”

“If this is true it's totally ridiculous , it brightened up what is a very drab place at other tips , someone should hang their head in shame,”said Nigel Curtis said

The Facebook post has attracted nearly 200 comments and provoked the ward councillor for Burton and Grange Cllr Simon McCormack to get involved.

He posted on Monday: “This morning I have emailed the Cabinet member responsible asking for her to look into this and will post a reply when I get one.”

The Christchurch Household Recycling Centre is run by the Dorset Waste Partnership on behalf of Dorset Council.

On the council’s website, they say that the site accepts real Christmas trees, garden waste and soil.

Matthew Boulter, Head of Commercial Waste and Strategy at the Dorset Waste Partnership, Dorset Council, said:

“Officers recently inspected the Christchurch household recycling centre and noticed that the informal “garden” had started to attract rats and other pests. The clutter was also making the area difficult to keep tidy and litter free, so we requested that our on-site contractors remove the display.

“We did not take this decision lightly as we appreciate some visitors were fond of the display, but we have a duty to ensure all our household recycling centres are kept tidy and safe to visit.

“When the area was cleared most of the items were placed in the reuse area for residents to purchase and place in their own garden.”

When asked when employees at the site became aware of rats and pests, a spokesman from the Dorset Waste Partnership said they were “observed directly in the area feeding from the bird table and other garden ornaments”.

He added: “Accumulations of material at these facilities which attract detritus and other litter are well known to provide harbourage for pests. Hence the need for this area to be cleared.”