'We are doing our best to keep on top of grass cutting'
By SKDC Leader Coun Matthew Lee
Are you tutting at the length of grass in our district more than usual this year? I know I am.
The first and most obvious reason for this is the weather. I can’t imagine better grass growing weather than what we’ve had over the past few months.
The second is management. Due to the way councils are set up, South Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire County Council are responsible for cutting different grassed areas.
We are responsible for mowing parks, open spaces and communal areas – some 1.5 million square metres – minus some areas that community-spirited residents kindly do on a voluntary basis.
Lincolnshire County Council is responsible for cutting the grass verges along our roads within speed restricted areas and areas that need to be cut for safety reasons. That’s a lot of grass!
I am the first to say what a challenge it has been this year to keep on top of our grass, which has tested some residents’ patience with us. I understand that.
Our contractor is working hard to get back on track and has increased its number of teams from five to six to do just that – at no extra cost to our taxpayers, because of the contract we have in place.
Unfortunately, last year Lincolnshire County Council decided to reduce the number of times it cuts verges from five times per year to two; around May and September. And because the grass will be longer each time, it now has to be cut using a flail.
The reduction came into effect across the county last year, except for South Kesteven. This is the first year we are seeing the difference it makes – in a year when grass is growing particularly quickly.
It is difficult to explain such things without it sounding like a criticism of our County Council colleagues. It isn’t. I understand the financial pressures they are under – we were talking about potholes not so long ago due to the severe weather – and that difficult decisions have to be made between essential services and things like grass cutting.
But I also know that, like collecting your bins, cutting the grass is one of the most visible things we as a District Council and Lincolnshire County Council do and one that matters a lot to you.
That’s why we invested so heavily in our Big Clean programme, which tackled things like weeds, litter and graffiti; a process that we are continuing this year. Sadly, there is no magic wand when it comes to grass cutting. However, I can assure you that we are aware of the issue and are doing our best to keep on top of the areas we’re responsible for.