Derby businessman Don Amott wants to fund spruce up of appalling Markeaton island

Monday 16th May 2016

City businessman Don Amott is meeting with highways chiefs about spending his own money to clean up Markeaton island.

The state of the island is an "absolute disgrace", according to Mr Amott, who said the shabby condition had inspired him to take responsibility for it. He said he was willing to invest thousands of pounds on plants, trees and tidying it up.

This would be carried out until a proposed underpass is built by Highways England. Mr Amott said: "My wife Mary and I were coming back from Sheffield. It had been a lovely visit and the city looked great. We drove through Chesterfield and we thought it looked really nice as well. A lot of money had been spent to improve it."

Mr Amott added: "Then we got to Derby and Markeaton island. It looked appalling. I thought there was something seriously wrong. It should never have got into that state. It's one of the main routes in and out of the city and it looked horrible. The grass on the island was all overgrown and it looked dirty. It was very unwelcoming.

"Markeaton Island is the gateway in and out of Derby, so it is important it looks clean and good."

Mr Amott said his plan to maintain the island and keep it clean and tidy would cost the tax payer nothing. In return, he said he would install a sign at the roundabout advertising his caravan firm, Don Amott Leisure Kingdom, which is in Hilton.

He said he had contacted Highways England about his plan. Mr Amott said: "There are a lot of cutbacks at the moment. My plan would mean the cost to the taxpayer of managing that island will go. The money can be used elsewhere.

"This city has come such a long way and it has some great advantages. But we're missing the basics with traffic islands. I'm really keen to do this as a company and to say to other businesses: why don't you do it? I'm sure, for the sponsorship, they will. In turn, the islands will look so much nicer and it's saving money. All it will take is some flowers and plants. I'm sure, if other businesses did the same thing, it would save the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds each year."

Mr Amott said his plan was all about "putting the pride back into Derby". He said: "If we can't do the basics, like making popular areas look nice and tidy, then what sort of message is that sending out? I expect it will cost a few thousand, but I just want to see the area look good."

A Highways England spokesman said: "We are aware of the issues at the traffic island and are working to resolve them as a matter of priority. We are happy to speak to Mr Amott regarding his proposal and look forward to meeting with him."