St Albans' streets “unkempt” after weed invasion

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 July 2016

Overgrown weeds on Fishpool Street

Overgrown weeds on Fishpool Street

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Herts County Council has been told to “get a grip” on contractor Ringway.

St Albans is sinking “in hay” according to councillors and residents who are unimpressed with a contractor’s inability to tidy up our streets.

County councillor for St Albans south Sandy Walkington said that he and other local body representatives have “been inundated with complaints from residents about the state of verges and the rampant growth of weeds on the pavements and highway across the district”.

District councillor for Verulam, Edgar Hill, has launched a petition demanding that Herts county council properly enforces its contract with Ringway, or “get another contractor to do the job”.

Cllr Walkington added: “This is a depressing re-run of last year, except the weeds have now had a chance to really establish themselves.

“We were assured lessons have been learned, but clearly they have not. And grass has been left so long before cutting that it looks like hayfields with cuttings strewn across the pavements and road edge.

“It’s unnecessary, it’s unfair on residents who take such good care of their own gardens and properties, and it makes St Albans look run-down and unkempt.”

He said it was time for the county council to “get a grip on Ringway” as there was “anger across the city, as the whole place looks scruffy”.

Cllr Hill’s petition states that, apart from having increasingly unkempt verges, maintenance in St Albans “is more erratic than ever with areas consistently missed”.

Furthermore, the grass “is allowed to grow so long that it looks a mess even after cutting. These failures add to the prevalence of weeds on the highway, in channels and on footways.

“The council should ensure that its contract with Ringway is properly adhered to or, if Ringway is unable to fulfil the terms of the contract, a new contractor is sought”.

Cllr Hill told the Herts Advertiser: “St Albans’ conservation area is full of weeds, and we are getting complaints from residents. It must be disappointing for visitors to St Albans.”

His views were echoed by fed-up Cunningham Hill Road resident Kevin Keenan, who has written to district councillors urging them to “ensure high standards are met” given that St Albans is “deemed one of the finest places in the south of England”.

Pointing out that considerable sums of money have been obtained to turn the Town Hall into a landmark art gallery and museum, Kevin asked: “Why is it that many of our streets are now more akin to a badly maintained allotment, with weeds growing like topsy?

“Cleanliness and presentation are everything. Herts county council is responsible for the maintenance of our roads and pavements. Surely our own local authority has an obligation to ensure high standards are met and to take whatever action is necessary, should those standards slip.

“Something needs to be done and done quickly, even if the council has to take matters into its own hands.”

HERTS COUNTY COUNCIL’S RESPONSE;

Cllr Terry Douris, the county council’s cabinet member for highways, has apologised for the state of this district’s pavements and verges.

He said: “We are sorry to hear that some people are unhappy with the service and note that they are bringing this to our attention via a petition, to which we will respond when it closes.

“Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor and review the service to try and ensure that we can meet residents’ expectations as much as possible within our limited budget which in turn sets the parameters for the frequency of cuts.”

Cllr Douris went on: “We aim get to each area as quickly as possible within a planned programme, although this work is weather dependant. In addition, the recent mix of sunshine and heavy showers means grass and vegetation grows really quickly.

“We appreciate that some residents would prefer that verges in some areas were cut sooner, but hope they understand that we have large areas of the county to maintain.”

He said that there is around 1.5 million square metres of highway grass in the St Albans district alone.

If there are particular areas of concern, report it online at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/faultreporting

To sign Cllr Edgar Hill’s e-petition asking the council to enforce its contract with Ringway, go to https://cmis.hertfordshire.gov.uk/hertfordshire/Petitions.aspx and look for “Verge Maintenance and Weed Control in St Albans.” The petition’s closing date is July 15.

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