'Great British weather to blame' as council under cosh over grass cutting - 12ins long in places

A council has conceded it is behind with its grass cutting schedules after numerous complaints from the public.

Redcar and Cleveland Council said it had encountered a number of challenges and explained that unprecedented heavy rain which fell over the spring left streetscene teams unable to do their usual rounds and they were still catching up. It said it hoped regular every three week cuts would soon resume.

Last week Conservative Peter Grogan told a meeting of Redcar and Cleveland Council about several areas in his Kirkleatham ward that had gone uncut. Meanwhile, residents in Guisborough have posted on Facebook about similar issues.

Councillor Grogan said: “The field between Low Farm Drive, Yew Tree Avenue and the [Kirkleatham] showground is now a meadow. Also not done are the grass verges, kerbs and paths that have weeds and vegetation growing over 12 inches long, which are in places dangerous and turning into a tripping hazard.”

Cllr Grogan said he had been “inundated with angry residents” who paid their "hard-earned" council tax, adding that other wards had been in a similar boat such as Eston, Grangetown, Longbeck and St Germain’s. He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that since the meeting some areas had been done, although not all.

Cllr Grogan said: “The answer is that the great British weather is to blame.

“Speaking to some officers, it seems the machines can’t take too much of the wet weather, that’s the excuse. Because of Government cuts they also said they don’t have the manpower they used to.

“It’s very intermittent the grass cutting and residents, rightly, are holding us to account. I have spoken to some elderly residents and they have never known it as bad as this.”

Councillor Peter Grogan
Councillor Peter Grogan -Credit:Facebook/Peter Grogan

The councillor also described how the situation had impacted hay fever sufferers. In Guisborough resident Natalie King said a section of verge in Spring Lodge Gardens, where she lives, which abuts onto Stokesley Road, was overgrown which made it impossible to see oncoming traffic when pulling out of a junction.

A comment on her Facebook post said: “Funny isn’t it they [the council] cut the grass for the bike race on the route they took. They are a joke, the whole area’s looking like a jungle.”

Another said the verge had been reported three times and nothing had been done. Local councillors reacting said they had raised the matter with the council and been assured neglected areas were in line to be cut.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The council’s streetscene teams have faced a number of challenges this spring, mainly due the unprecedented amount of rain impacting on all areas, but most significantly on large open space land.

“In previous years we have started cutting as early as February, but this year due to the weather it was April before our standard grass cutting routes could even be attempted. We’d like to thank everyone for their patience as we are doing our best to catch up. Hopefully, very soon we will be able to maintain our three-weekly route.”

The LDRS asked if the council’s adopting of the ‘No Mow May’ initiative and a previous change in policy designed to phase out use of the weedkiller glyphosate had been a factor in the current circumstances. The spokeswoman said: “This year, we did take part in No Mow May to try and do our bit to help promote biodiversity and encourage more wildlife, bees and butterflies.

“We also took the decision to limit the use of pesticide in selected areas. We are trying to move towards becoming a more biodiverse borough due to the climate and ecological challenges we face.

“But we also need to balance this out with how this will impact the appearance of the borough, so we will be reviewing the pesticide use and the impact of the No Mow May campaign at the end of the grass cutting season.”