Petition against Kew Gardens funding cuts goes to Downing Street

10 Jun 2014 News

Campaigners took a petition signed by almost 100,000 people to Downing Street yesterday in a fight against funding and job cuts at Kew Gardens.

Campaigners took a petition signed by almost 100,000 people to Downing Street yesterday in a fight against funding and job cuts at Kew Gardens.

MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston Zac Goldsmith, where the charity is based, joined campaigners to deliver the petition.

He said: “Kew Gardens is a national jewel, and it would be a tragedy if its work and reputation were to suffer as a result of excessive cuts.”

Representatives from the unions Prospect, PCS and GMB were also in attendance.

Prospect negotiator Julie Flanagan said: “Successive independent reviews of Kew have praised the quality and value of its scientific work and recommended that its public funding be maintained or increased.

“Kew has already lost approximately 50 posts, vacancies are not being filled and management is planning the loss of a further 50-70 posts.

“Cutting staff reduces Kew’s capacity to fulfil its statutory obligations, to carry out its leading science and conservation, and to generate its own revenue.

“It has been heartening to see how much people from across the globe recognise and support Kew’s value. It’s a tragedy that the coalition government can’t do the same.”

Kew announced a £5m deficit for the year and plans to axe about 125 science and public engagement staff in March 2014.

The job cuts follow a reduction in Kew’s public funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs, first announced in 2010 and imposed year-on-year since.

A spokeswoman for Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said, “We are grateful for the incredible public affection shown for Kew from across the globe.

“We want to reassure our supporters, donors and partners that we have a plan in place to combat the deficit, and to put Kew on a firm footing for the future so that we can continue to make a vital contribution to plant science, conservation, education and horticulture.”

The petition currently has 97,800 signatures.

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