Being kicked into the long grass ...
Published on: 01 Jul 2016
THEY say the grass is always greener on the other side, but for these Mangotsfield residents it's quite clear the grass is always shorter on the other side.
For the residents of Valley Road, Northcote Road, Burley Grove, Rodway Road and Long Road live in an unparished area which means they get the grass verges outside their homes cut just twice a year.
But their neighbours who come under the jurisdiction of Mangotsfield Parish Council get their grass regularly trimmed with up to 10 cuts a year.
Residents say the grass, which has sprouted up due to wet weather conditions, is making
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their neighbourhood look an eyesore and are calling upon South Gloucestershire Council to take action.
Valley Road resident and dad-of-two Gary Spindler, 45, said: "It looks abandoned and neglected here. It basically looks like a derelict wasteland and is depressing to say the least.
"Who knows what's in the grass so we can't let children play in it as it could be dangerous. The children play in the road instead so the dangers are adding up. It's just a matter of time before there's an accident."
In a bid to save money, the cash-strapped council classifies grass as either 'Highways Grass' or 'Amenity Grass'.
Highways Grass gets two cuts a year, possibly three if weather conditions mean the grass has grown rapidly, but Amenity Grass, which includes parks, gets more frequent trims, up to 10 a year.
The changes were introduced from April 2014 as part of council plans to transfer 'street scene' services like grass cutting, dog litter bins and floral displays to parish councils or community groups.
But as the residents from this part of Mangotsfield do not come under a parish council, they receive a more limited service, or what the council calls a 'core service'.
Mr Spindler said: "This is the third year we've put up with it and we've constantly tried to negotiate with the council. We get told it's council policy and that's it, which is frustrating. We understand there's less money but there are nearby grassed areas which are identical to those in Valley Road and yet they are being cut every 15 days.
"We understand the council hasn't got unlimited resources but instead of cutting the four bits of grass twice a year and the other four bits of grass twice a month, the council could cut them all six times year and then the whole community would benefit and there would be no extra cost."
Mr Spindler said residents had not ruled out the possibility of joining the parish council, although the move wouldn't be straightforward and would involve numerous legalities.
The residents' cause has been taken up by Rodway Labour councillor Michael Bell who says the lack of a regular trim is making the area look shabby.
"The residents are extremely unhappy over the height of the uncut grass outside their homes. It's become like a jungle. It looks terrible; the whole area is an eyesore.
Cllr Bell has arranged several meetings with council officers in an attempt to change this situation, without any success.
The council has agreed to an extra cut this summer but Cllr Bell said the measure won't solve what is going to be an ongoing problem.
"It's a short-term solution to the problem. In the long-term what the residents what is for the grass to be reclassified as Amenity Grass."
A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: “In 2014 the council moved to a core standard of maintenance for a number of Street Scene services, including grass cutting. This was part of the council’s corporate savings plan amid the ongoing need to reduce expenditure.
“While parish and town councils have bought back services to former amenity levels in many areas, allowing grass to be cut around 10 times per year instead of the core cut of two to three cuts, with non-parished areas this is not available.
“Cutting is carried out during the early part of the season (May time) and again in September. It is sometimes necessary to cut the grass a third time between these two dates if there is extreme growth due to the weather. This is currently the situation and an intermediate cut is programmed starting the end of June/beginning of July.
"As regards reclassifying the land, there isn’t the resources available to allow this work to take place as the situation stands."