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Grass cutting by Hereford Council could be reduced next year


megilleland
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From Hereford Times website today:

 

GRASS cutting could be reduced in Ledbury and the county in the next financial year as Herefordshire Council looks to balance its books.

 
And fears are growing that Ledbury Town Council will be asked to pick up the town’s grass-cutting bill – leading to a rise in its council tax demands.
 
Though no firm decision has been made as yet, the possibility that the county might stop cutting grass was flagged up by Coun Liz Harvey, a Herefordshire councillor for Ledbury, at a recent town council meeting.
 
Now some town councillors are concerned the council might be required to take on the grass-cutting services for Ledbury’s verges and green spaces, a task that is currently carried out by Herefordshire Council contractor Balfour Beatty.
 
Coun Tony Bradford said he heard a year ago from an Amey officer – the company that was the authority’s previous contractor – that grass cutting could be axed as a cost-cutting measure and he was not surprised by Coun Harvey’s information.
 
He said: “The philosophy of Herefordshire Council seems to be that Ledbury Town Council will take on this extra responsibilty and charge extra for it on our precept. That would not be a fair burden.â€
 
Coun Harry Bramer, Herefordshire Council’s cabinet member for contracts, said of Balfour Beatty’s duties in the next financial year: “I think it very unlikely that they will cut grass to the same levels as they do now.â€
 
He said that under budgetry constraints, it could be argued that looking after the county’s vulnerable young people and the elderly was more important than cutting grass but he said that no firm decision concerning the levels of grass cutting in 2014/2015 had been made.
 

 

I have often raised the standard of grass cutting on our estates. It is aleady neglected to the point of being an eyesore and useless for recreation purposes. How much are the council going to save on their £200 million contract with Balfour Beatty over the next 10 years. Here is a reminder of the functions they are contracted to undertake. We should expect a reasonable service.

 

 

The ten-year contract which covers highways maintenance and improvement works, street lighting, street cleaning, as well as responsibility for public rights of way, and parks and open spaces is due to start on 1 September 2013.

 
Andrew McNaughton CEO of Balfour Beatty said: “This exciting opportunity to work with Herefordshire County Council further strengthens our position in the local authority services sector.
 
“We are dedicated to delivering an effective, efficient, sustainable and customer focused service for the county which we will achieve through flexible delivery, innovation, and staff development.â€
 
The full list of core services for which Balfour Beatty will be responsible include:
 
Highways management services
Highways maintenance and improvement work
Traffic controls systems maintenance
Street lighting
Street cleaning
Public rights of way
Parks and open spaces
Fleet management transformation services
Highways asset management

 

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I know that previous grass issues are down to the previous contractor (Amey). I'm located up by Churchill Gardens at Aylestone and there was a marked drop off in services from about 4 years ago at that location. Before that there were not many issues that I would have moaned about but since then the leaves have not been collected in the Autumn ... Which has resulted in all the grass dying off under the trees at the top.

 

The area is not massive but they then decided it was a good idea to tackle little bits at a time. Cut round some trees and disappear. Then come back a week later and cut a bit more of the main areas ... etc ... 

 

It ended up with me ringing the Council saying the infrequent service was below standard as the grass was getting to ridiculous lengths and uncollected dog mess was getting hidden. One reply I got on the phone was that grass grows at different rates according to the weather and time of year and that had an impact on how often they visit. 

 

Here's a link to some pics on Foursquare that I've posted ... Ignore the dogs (mine) but look at the grass and make your own minds' up as to whether that was a decent level of service ... https://foursquare.com/v/churchill-gardens/4cb4585575ebb60c59a7e1ad/photos On one of the photos I reckon we could have done with a hay bailer to collect the grass after it dried as there was so much sileage dropped.

 

What you will still see though is that certain verges are manicured to perfection with grass collected by the machine. Like Victoria St. by West Street car park. But if it's out of sight at all it is subjected to the shambolic cut & drop technique.

 

With this new contract with Balfour why are we talking about cuts in grass cutting services so soon. Surely a deal was signed to provide a certain level of service over a certain length of time? 

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Roger the Council wouldn't have thought about terms and conditions in the contract, that would require a level of competence.  Besides the Nephew, niece, best friend of the director who got the job to negotiate the terms and conditions won't have been qualified to conduct the negotiations and was probably working from home that day!

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This year, for us, on the green across the road it seems that it only gets cut when we ring to complain about the state of it. This has happened quite a few times now.

 

So is this how it's going to work? Every time we want them to do something we have to call and ask them to do it?

 

Let's see if there's an improvement with Balfour doing it now...although I fear it won't get done again until next year...

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megilleland, if you look in the HT this week selling off assets looking through the list you will see green spaces have been sold including a vegetable patch for £1,000. and one in Kinnersley close. therefore there will not be any grass to cut if this keeps happening it will belong to someone else, and then what will the buyers do with it!

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Here is the Auction List for the Sale held on October 14th in London by Lambert Smith Hampton

 

Lot 49 12/26 Kinnersley Close, Hereford, Herefordshire, HR2 7DY

Freehold Ground Rent(s) on 8 Houses

 

This is the council selling the ground rents. I would have thought that they should have notified the residents first to enable them to purchase the ground rents. All that will happen is that the new freeholder will just send an annual bill which could increase yearly especially if they have taken on the responsibility for cutting any grass. You will end up with residents not knowing who is going to cut the grass and when - a mess. We already have that in Muir Close where the council cut two humps and verges and the housing association cut the other three. For this work 49 households get a service charge each for over £50. I think we could cut the grass and do a better job for less £2450 a year. In fact we got a quote for £800 to the job.

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