Mowing cutbacks leaves verges in ‘dangerous’ state

Long Grass on Merrytrees Lane, Cottam
Long Grass on Merrytrees Lane, Cottam
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“DANGEROUS” and “disgraceful” grass verges could become commonplace across Lancashire, as cuts force changes to the mowing schedule.

Preston and West Lancashire Councils have refused to accept a 20 per cent drop in funding from Lancashire County Council to carry out the work, meaning new contractors have to be found.

Long Grass on Tom Benson Way

Long Grass on Tom Benson Way

But LCC has said changes will mean verges will only be cut twice a year in rural areas and five times a year in urban areas.

Previously, Preston Council cut the grass 12-14 times a year in urban areas and twice a year in rural areas. West Lancashire Council has refused to reveal how many times a year it cut the verges.

In some areas of Preston, the grass is now over a foot high.

Residents of Preston have contacted the Evening Post to say the verges are a “disgrace” throughout the city, and councillors have echoed the concerns.

I feel like getting a mower out and doing it myself

Coun Margaret McManus

Councillor Christine Abram, ward member for Lea, said: “It’s a mess all along Merry Trees Lane and Tom Benson Way, where the grass is blocking people’s line of sight on roundabouts.

“It’s not just untidy, it’s potentially dangerous. You could miss a bike or a child and signs could get covered up.

“Preston City Council always did a fantastic job and you could ring up and they’d explain what was going on with the cutting in the area. But now everyone’s unsure who at County they should be contacting. Nobody seems to be taking responsibility.”

Coun Margaret McManus, who represents the Sharoe Green area, said the state of the grass verges gave a bad impression of city.

Long Grass on Merrytrees Lane, Cottam

Long Grass on Merrytrees Lane, Cottam

She said: “It’s horrendous, not good at all. People are saying it’s nature’s way, but it’s not.

“I’m sick of cut backs, cut back on something else, because this is dangerous.

“There’s serious safety implications with this – you could lose a child in that grass, and I’m an asthmatic and I’m worried about the pollen count.”

She said: “It’s also giving the impression we don’t care about our city.

“I’m getting a lot of complaints and I feel like we’re letting our residents down.

“I feel like getting a mower out and doing it myself.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “We have had to accommodate reductions in spending in many areas of our budget to contribute to huge savings we need to make due to ongoing cuts in the funding we receive from government and rising demand for services.

“Some of these savings have been made by working closely with district councils and optimising the way we deliver highway services to make both our operations as efficient as they can be.

“We have also asked district councils to accommodate a reduction of around 20 per cent in the funding we give them to carry out activities such as grass cutting and we do understand this will have an impact.

“Preston Council and West Lancashire Borough Council decided not to continue these arrangements and we are due to appoint contractors very shortly to continue to deliver this service in these districts.”

Councillor Kevin Wilkie, portfolio holder for Street Scene Services in West Lancashire said: “Over recent years, as the government has reduced funding to councils, the money paid by the County Council for this work has reduced, with the result that the Borough Council has had to confirm that we are no longer able to provide the service.”

The director of Environment at Preston Council, Adrian Phillips, said: “Due to the expiry of the agreement, Lancashire County Council are now responsible for maintenance of highway grass verges, pruning of street trees and weed control throughout the whole of Preston.

“People should contact the county at highways@lancashire.gov.uk or through their website at www.lancashire.gov.uk. The city council will continue to maintain its own land, such as in Preston’s parks.”