Budget cuts to result in more weeds, long grass and full bins in North Somerset?
PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 June 2018
Weeds, long grass and full bins may become more noticeable in North Somerset as a result of budget cuts, a report suggests.
North Somerset Council made £10million in savings at the start of this financial year, which included cutting £150,000 from its grounds maintenance budget.
Staff and equipment took the hit, with the authority getting rid of one mechanical road sweeper and driver, a lawn-mower and driver, and its strimming team.
It also reduced the number of seasonal staff who carry out work in busy periods.
A council report issued to one of its scrutiny committees shows teams keeping the district’s streets and parks tidy are under more pressure as a result.
It says weeding has also become less frequent, while long grass has become ‘obvious’ around benches and road signs.
Some villagers in Chelvey told the Times the grass has grown too long in places, for example in Chelvey Batch, and around postboxes, making it look untidy.
The council says a combination of wet and hot weather has accelerated grass growth this year, and longer grass takes longer to cut, leaving the teams behind schedule.
With maintenance crews taking on extra workloads, some litter bins are also not being emptied as frequently as they were before.
The report adds: “The transfer of staff to carry out seasonal work has had to be addressed by reducing other workloads such as frequency of bin-emptying and removing litter bins in some areas.
“Even with this mitigation sufficient time cannot be freed up to cover previous work volumes and the reduction in capacity means that resource must be drawn from other areas such as some town centre cleansing operatives and mobile cleansing crews.
“This has directly impacted on the ability to respond so quickly to cleansing requests in the town centre together with wider requests such as fly-tipping.”
Villages in particular may see a reduced service in the future.
The report says: “There is a reduced resilience within the service due to less mechanical and manual sweeping resource and lower priority areas may be impacted, including rural villages.”
It adds the council may be risking its reputation, as areas will become untidier, which may be noticed.