Councils on the verge as budget constraints hit grass cutting

Kettering Council staff mowing the grass along St Mary's Road and Linden Avenue
Kettering Council staff mowing the grass along St Mary's Road and Linden Avenue
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The state of grass verges and some public green areas round the county has become shocking, say Telegraph readers.

A combination of warm weather and budget cuts mean the grass has become higher than ever.

Grass Verges :Kettering:  Grass on verges getting long. Kettering Borough Council staff mowing the grass along St Mary's Rd and Linden Avenue''Monday 17th June 2013

Grass Verges :Kettering: Grass on verges getting long. Kettering Borough Council staff mowing the grass along St Mary's Rd and Linden Avenue''Monday 17th June 2013

Financial constraints since 2011 mean councils have been forced to reduce the number times grass on roadside verges and green areas is cut.

Kettering Council said it has not reduced the number of cuts the authority carries out every year, but the overall number of cuts has fallen because Northamptonshire County Council reduced its contribution to the service two years ago.

Kettering Council said the county council used to pay for five cuts a year.

Its contribution now pays for jusr two.

Kettering councillor Michael Brown said one of Kettering Council’s financial “golden rules” was to not pass the cost on to Kettering council tax payers when a service was reduced by another authority.

He added: “For example, when the county council reduced its grass cutting contribution two years ago, we did not want Kettering people to effectively subsidise a service which used to be partly paid for elsewhere in their council tax.

“So we have continued to pay for the same number of cuts every year, but the number of county council-funded cuts fell.”

Kettering residents can expect to see grass verges cut seven times a year.

“Corby Council says cuts are carried out up to 12 times a year, depending on weather conditions. East Northants Council residents can expect to see between seven and 11 cuts every year, depending on where they live, while those living in the Wellingborough Council area have between eight and 10 cuts a year.

All four authorities said they perform more grass cutting on parks and recreation grounds. Kettering Council, for example, says it will cut grass in parks between 10 and 30 times a year depending on weather and growing conditions.

Last year, the Telegraph reported that residents were complaining about similar conditions.

However, authorities then blamed last year’s very wet summer – rather than budget cuts.

The Telegraph asked readers through its Facebook page what they think of grass cutting in their area.

Colin Baynham, from Kettering, said: “Kettering Council have done half a job at Brambleside. They have just hacked the verges to bits and left the grass cuttings to clog up the drains.”

Billy Fisher, from Corby, added: “The number of cuts of verges and grassed areas in Corby has clearly been cut, never mind the grass getting cut. Is it to save money? Well why not announce that, so folk may understand instead of letting the areas look like a jungle.”

And Natalie Davy said: “The little park area in Rockingham Road, Kettering, opposite the bowling alley is feet high and is unusable.

“It’s a shame.”

cost-cutting

Northamptonshire County Council announced it was reducing the amount it handed to district and borough councils for grass-cutting in 2011.

At the time, Kettering Council said this meant the number of staff in the maintenance team was being reduced.

They added: “Fewer mowers will be allocated. Grass verges will be longer than in recent years. Strimming around obstacles and blowing grass onto the verge will no longer be carried out.”

The council said the budget cuts would not affect the number of grass cuts carried out at parks, or on green areas owned by the authority.