Wrexham Council under fire over grass-cutting reduction


Charlie Croasdale

A PETITION has been launched calling on Wrexham Council to revoke its decision to drastically reduce grass-cutting across the county.

Members of the Wrexham Independents Group have hit out at Wrexham Council’s decision to approve a 50 per cent reduction in the amount of grass-cutting.

The move, which will leave some areas facing a reduction in the number of cuts from eight to two each year, was taken as the council wrestled with savings targets of £45 million over five years.

But opposers have raised safety concerns, argue some parts of the county could become “jungles” in the longer periods between cuts, and said tourism at beauty spots like Froncysyllte World Heritage Site could be hit hard.

The Independents have started an online petition in a bid to gather support for a call for the council to overturn its decision.

Johnstown councillor David A Bithell said: “People are coming up to me and asking why isn’t the grass being cut when we pay our council tax – they make a good point.

“Large areas are starting to look untidy and scruffy, despite the hard work put in by communities during Wales in Bloom and Britain in Bloom in the past.”

Pat Jeffares, Llangollen Rural councillor, said: “The entrance to the World Heritage Site looks messy and it creates a bad impression for people who come from hundreds of miles away to visit the site.

“This is a major tourism site for the area and it's a disgrace that it is only going to get two cuts when the Guildhall grass gets a weekly cut.”

The council maintains areas of grass, verges and hedges on the majority of council-owned land in the county including parks and open spaces, football pitches, leisure and housing land.

It previously said civic areas like war memorials and cenotaphs will get the same number of cuts as 2013/14 levels.

Cllr Arfon Jones said his Gwersyllt West ward was being badly affected.

He said: “Some of our residents are even threatening to not pay their council tax if services keeping getting axed.

“It’ll look like a jungle in Gwersyllt by the time we next get a cut.”

Penycae councillor John Phillips said a “huge number” of his constituents had raised concerns.

“We are trying to attract visitors to Wrexham, not deter them. I’m really concerned,” he said. “ There are safety issues to consider, hidden dangers in the long grass, dog mess and discarded needles to name a few.”

A Wrexham Council spokesman said the authority faces cuts of £45 million over the next five years due to “pressures put upon all local authorities across Wales from Westminster”.

“Due to these budget pressures, Wrexham’s grounds maintenance budget has been reduced by £300,000 for 2014/15. As part of the Reshaping Services programme it was proposed to change the way we cut grass through reducing the frequency of cutting grass,” they added. “It was proposed to reduce the number of cuts of the majority of the areas, which includes all the open spaces and verges.

The total area of grass we cut would remain the same.

“Town Centre and Civic Areas (War Memorials/Cenotaph) will continue to be maintained to the existing standard. Highway verges will be cut for safety splays, visibility requirements and signage or where the grass becomes a road traffic hazard.”

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