Councils in Northamptonshire come under fire over grass cutting

Councils across Northamptonshire have been lambasted over unkempt grass verges which have not been cut for up to two months.

Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 6:28 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 5:17 pm
Councils across Northamptonshire have been lambasted over unkempt grass verges which have not been cut for up to two months.

Many people across the county have taken to social media to voice their concerns over high grass which has made some junctions in the county unsafe to pull out of.

Cutting grass verges is the responsibility of the county council, which funds some boroughs to carry out the work.

But recent bad weather, coupled with historic funding cuts, has brought the issue to light.

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Wellingborough resident Paul King branded the situation a disgrace.

He said: “In some places it’s two feet high. It’s a disgrace.

“It’s not been cut for eight weeks because of the weather but it’s growing so quickly.

“It’s a real danger on some estates.”

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said cuts are done as necessary to ensure safety where issue arise.

The spokesman said: “We are currently working through this year’s grass cutting programme but a mixture of warm and wet weather means that there has been a lot of growth.

“Grass cutting has a safety purpose in preventing the obstruction of visibility at bends, road junctions and accesses and providing a safe refuge for pedestrians.

“The county council carries out or contracts out grass cutting on the majority of grass verges on the network.

“The frequency for grass cutting set down by the county council takes into account both the location and road classification of the grass verge.

“The frequency of grass cutting is three cuts per year in urban areas and two cuts annually in rural areas. This is within the national code of practice recommendations.

“In places where there are identified safety issues, cuts are done as necessary to ensure safety.

“In some areas the county council provides funds to the borough, district and parish councils to carry out grass cutting in accordance with the policy.

“Currently this arrangement involves five of the borough/district councils and 89 parish/town councils.

“These councils supplement the minimum funds provided to different degrees and cut highway grass in built-up areas of the parish.

“The county council’s grass cutting policy last changed in the financial year 2011/2012, as a result of the financial pressures the council, like all public services, found itself under.”

A spokesman for Kettering Council said it pays for extra cuts after funding was reduced.

The spokesman said: “Highway verge maintenance is the responsibility of Northamptonshire County Council as the highways authority, but is contracted out to Kettering Council for grass cutting.

“The county council now funds just two cuts per year, rather than the five they funded previously.

“Kettering Council, at its own expense, has always supplemented the work paid for by the county council – this is currently by an average of an extra five cuts per year.

“This year, recent warm and very wet weather conditions have been perfect for grass and weed growing and we have seen extremely fast levels of growth.

“When the rain stops and drier weather prevails, however, growth will slow and the verges will begin to look tidier again.”

A spokesman for South Northamptonshire Council said it did not have a policy on grass cutting and didn’t cut any land that it did not own.

The spokesman said: “SNC does own a few small plots of land which we do cut, ie. some verges in front of the bin lorry depot, Bury Mount in Towcester and a pocket park in Brackley.

“Other than that we don’t do any public realm grass cutting.

“Grass verges on the public highway are the responsibility of county highways, and we presume Highways England for national important trunk roads.”

Wellingborough Council, Corby Council, Northampton Council, Daventry Council and East Northants Council have not yet commented.