St Albans verges row gets serious
- Credit: Archant
Fed-up residents have made a ‘humungous’ number of complaints about the state of grass verges in St Albans according to a councillor who has made the first stage of an official complaint over the situation.
Cllr Aislinn Lee, who represents Park Street, voiced her concern about the new grass-cutting contract in a complaint to the district council – and despite getting a lengthy response she thinks it is likely that she will have to take the complaint even higher.
Numerous residents have contacted the Herts Advertiser about the state of the grass verges outside their homes and Cllr Lee was prompted to take action because of the number of complaints she received and the clear reduction in the number of times verges were cut.
And while she accepts that a delay in signing a grass-cutting contract with John O’Conner had caused problems for the contractors, she does not understand why the problems which would inevitably arise from cutting the verges less frequently were not taken into account when it was signed.
The county council is considering whether they want their contractor Ringway to take over grass-cutting after this year and Cllr Lee was told that the uncertainty meant that John O’Conner did not want to spend a lot of money replacing old cylinder mowers which are struggling to deal with the longer grass and weeds.
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Cllr Lee said this week that she completely understood why the contractor struggled with the lateness of finalising the contract and was reluctant to spend large sums of money on new machinery for what could only be a short term arrangement.
But she went on: “What I don’t understand is that only the day before this contract was handed over to John O’Conner, they were cutting our grass really well, so what machinery were they using up until then, why did it change and why, in the bidding process, was it not identified that they wouldn’t have the machinery to cut longer grass?”
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Cllr Lee said it was obvious that fewer cuts would result in longer grass and taller and stronger weeds so the contract should have recognised that. But she said she hoped the district council would take the ‘sensible option’ of resolving the situation locally rather than the county council handing the service to Ringway.
The district council has moved to reassure Cllr Lee that a new dedicated team has been put in place for grass cutting rounds and she is planning to meet and discuss the situation with officers. She has also let residents’ groups and parish councils in her area know the situation.
No-one from John O’Conner was available for comment.