U-turn sees Wrexham Council increase grass cuttings

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

THE frequency of grass cuttings in Wrexham is to be increased amid pressure from unhappy residents.

The savings’ U-turn from Wrexham Council means all areas are now set to receive a minimum of four cuts per year.

Under grounds maintenance budget cuts the council previously said many wards would only get two cuts a year.

Cllr Bob Dutton, lead member for environment, revealed yesterday that, weather dependant, each ward will receive a minimum of four cuts in the 2014-15 financial year. But that is still half the number for 2013-14.

Wrexham Council has previously announced plans for a further £200,000 of cuts from its grass cutting budget for the 2015-16 financial year, but the decision was deferred at the council’s executive board meeting.

Now officials appear to have taken a step to address widespread public anger at the reductions in grass cuts this year.

In a statement yesterday, Cllr Dutton said: “It was proposed to consider reviewing the number of cuts, but it is now intended that all areas will get a minimum of four cuts, dependent upon weather.”

The climbdown was welcomed by Cllr David A. Bithell, leader of the Wrexham Independents Group, who helped launch a petition asking for the council to reconsider cuts to grass cutting services.

“We raised with the council in February and finally they have bowed to pressure of public concerns,” he said. “I welcome this U-turn on proposed savings on grass cutting. Now we’ll wait and see how it is put into practice.

“It is our belief the length of the grass in Wrexham not only looks bad but it is damaging the economy of the county and is off-putting to visitors to our town. It is about time the council acted.”

The authority’s four cuts pledge comes after pressure from councillors and residents who have taken matters into their own hands and cut council areas of grass themselves.

Marchwiel councillor John Pritchard said grass measuring up to three feet in height is proving a “danger to drivers” wishing to turn onto a busy main road.

He said residents in his ward have had near-misses turning onto the main road, A525, through the village due to the length of the grass on road verges obscuring motorists’ views at junctions.

He revealed it was particularly bad on the exit of Elwyn Drive onto the A525, with the grass getting up to three feet in height.

Cllr Pritchard said: “It is getting ridiculous and I am getting calls every day from Marchwiel and Erbistock residents saying it is becoming dangerous.

“Turning out of Elwyn Drive it is especially difficult to see what is coming from the right-hand side. Cars are just about visible but motorbikes are barely visible.

“It is a danger to drivers. Residents are saying they’ve had a couple of near misses and I’d say the grass is around three feet tall. If the council don’t cut it soon there will be an accident on that road.

“We haven’t even been told when the grass is going to be cut next.”

Cllr Pritchard said some residents had taken matters into their own hands, cutting grass outside Marchwiel Hall to help reduce the risk to road users.

“One of our residents, Bill Price, has been cutting grass on the road side near Marchwiel Hall and I’d thank him for that, it has been a great effort,” Cllr Pritchard added.

“But it is the council that should be cutting this grass, not leaving it up to residents to do so.”

Cllr Dutton added: “It has been well documented Wrexham Council is facing £45 million worth of cuts over the next five years.

“This is due to the extremely difficult circumstances brought about by the pressures put upon all local authorities across Wales.

“Due to these budget pressures, Wrexham’s grounds maintenance budget has been reduced by £300,000 for 2014-15.

“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.

“Where issues are raised by councillors or members of the public about potential hazards officers will of course review the position to assess risks and determine any appropriate action.”

See full story in the Leader

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