Council officials in Flintshire have been asked to look into the cost of clearing grass cuttings from public spaces following complaints about mess.
Flintshire Council is responsible for ensuring the grass is cut in areas such as roadsides, footpaths, cemeteries and school playing fields on a regular basis.
It currently manages each location either by sending out its own staff or employing an external company but does not collect clippings after mowing takes place.
It has led to concerns being raised by councillors about the untidy state of some communities and they now want the authority to look into whether it would be feasible for staff to take grass which has been cut away with them.
It comes despite a warning from one council figure that it could cost as much as £700,000 extra per year.
The issue was raised by Shotton east councillor David Evans at a meeting of the authority’s environment scrutiny committee held yesterday, where he highlighted discarded grass cuttings as one of the biggest sources of complaints in the town.
He said “I think all the grass cuttings should be removed and not left.
“In all the pensioner complexes I have in the area, the grass is usually two or three foot when the first cut of the season comes around and we’re left with clumps all over the place.
“That’s when I get my biggest earache and it’s sports fields as well.
“I think the policy shouldn’t stay as it as at the moment and needs to have in it that all grass cuttings should be collected and taken away.”
During the meeting, community leaders were told the council had struggled to keep up the rate with the rate grass has grown in the county this year because of warmer than average temperatures last winter.
It meant the authority had to bring in extra outside help and mowing continued right up until the end of last month.
Officials said delays were added to when workers were diverted to deal with flooding incidents in June.
Steve Jones, the council’s chief officer for streetscene and transportation, said he was happy to bring a report back to the committee on the cost of collecting grass cuttings.
However, ones of his colleagues informed them of a quote received from external contractors, which indicated a 70 per cent increase on the current bill of £1m to carry out the work.
Highway network manager Barry Wilkinson said: “In regard to costings, it would require a change in machinery if we were to do it in-house.
“We would be looking for extra equipment, vehicles and a team to support that collection.
“I’ve also spoken to a contractor we use for an indication from them on where they see the costs coming from and they indicated an increase of 70 per cent.”
At the end of the debate, councillors voted to request further information from the council on how much it would need to pay for cuttings to be collected.
A report will be brought back the committee at a later date.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).