CRIMINALS are to take over the maintenance of an overgrown public garden in Accrington.

Offenders doing community payback will be brought in to work on the plants at the ‘garden of hope’ in Livingstone Road.

Milnshaw UKIP councillor Malcolm Pritchard instigated the scheme after the volunteers who previously tended to the site were unable to continue.

Coun Pritchard said the garden, which opened in 2007, was ‘picturesque’ but that recently it had gone to ‘rack and ruin’ because no one was looking after it.

Now, with the help of Lorraine Slater at the Lancashire Probation Trust (LPT), a group of eight people convicted of minor offences will help with the upkeep of flowers and trees.

Coun Pritchard said: “It’s an area we did up a few years ago but of the two volunteers, one has moved to Oswaldtwistle and the other has to focus on her full-time job.

“Hyndburn Council hasn’t got the resources to look after it so I approached the probation people and the community payback team are going to come down on a monthly basis to do weeding and things like that.

“There is a bench down there and it is somewhere people go to think and enjoy. I showed Lorraine around and I’m glad they’re able to help out.”

Ms Slater, the LPT’s practice manager for community payback in East Lancashire, said the group made its first visit to the site last Monday and would return to monitor it regularly.

She said: “It had become really overgrown which was a shame because there has been so much time and effort put into it.

“The people working on it will be doing between 40 and 300 hours of community service for traffic offences and other lower-level crimes.

“Malcolm approached us to see if there was any chance of us helping out and we are happy to do so.”