RESIDENTS and businesses have once again joined forces with Headington Action Group to create great looking floral displays.

With the help of national companies like the Co-op and Waitrose, 20 local stores and a contribution from Oxfordshire County Council’s Big Society fund, the action group has raised just over £2,000 for 25 floral displays – two more than last year.

Each company provided between £50 and £300.

Jill Cummings, of London Road, was the driving force behind the campaign.

She said the response of the business community was wonderful as many were suffering hard financial times.

She added: “It’s the main route into Oxford and so I think it’s important to make the area look welcoming and cared for.

“It also shows that we have a sense of community here.”

She explained that it provided an important service to local residents, businesses and visitors and also enhanced the centre of the retail area.

Headington Action Group chairman Patrick Coulter said: “It’s a good example of the community supporting itself and coming together.

“A lot of people come from London to Oxford and Headington is the main corridor people come through, so it’s important that it looks welcoming.”

One of the companies which donated money was Waitrose in Old High Street.

The store’s personnel manager, Mark Gibaut, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to help.

“It’s great to have worked with other local businesses to help make the High Street look more attractive to people.”

It was in 2011 that Oxford City Council decided that for the first time there would be no funding for floral displays outside the city centre.

This led the Headington Action Group to approach the City Parks department and ask to form a partnership, if they could raise the money – about £2,000 – for the hanging baskets.

With the support of local businesses, funding was raised for the baskets and helped Headington win the bronze award in the Best Small Commercial Display category of the Oxford in Bloom contest.

Last year Headington went one better and won a silver award in Oxford in Bloom for Best Small Commercial Display.

This year’s Oxford in Bloom awards were judged on July 22 and 23.

Headington hopes to go one better and win gold.

This year’s presentation evening will be on Thursday, September 12, from 7pm at Oxford Town Hall.