£100,000 more for grass cutting after council admits verges unacceptable

Cllr Spencer Flower

Cllr Spencer Flower

First published in New Forest News by , Head of News

DORSET County Council is reviewing its verge cutting after being caught out with a wet winter and mild spring – telling residents the state they have been left in recently is “unacceptable”.

The news comes after residents in Verwood complained that not only had verges not been cut soon enough but that when they had been they were left in a shocking state.

Both East Dorset District Council and Dorset County Council are responsible for verge cutting, with the county responsible for the main roads.

County council leader Spencer Flower, who lives in Verwood, said: “We cannot have a repeat of last year.

“We realise that grass cutting has fallen short of standards which are acceptable.”

He added: “Three years ago, following cuts in government funding, we reduced funding for highway verge cutting as part of a wider plan to save £60 million in revenue costs each year.

“The reduced frequency of the cuts, coupled with the wettest winter on record and the mild spring weather has resulted in a poor service for many locations.

“On behalf of the council I wish to apologise to our residents for the poor standards they have experienced so far this year.”

The county council has pledged to put an extra £100,000 in the verge cutting budget this year, and will pay particular attention to road junctions where long grass can obscure drivers’ view of oncoming traffic and pose a hazard.

Officers are also looking into whether the cuttings can be used for animal feed to make it sustainable, and seeing how best to adhere to wildlife guidelines laid down as part of the the Living verges Partnership.

Cllr Flower added: “We want to make the verge cutting programme more environmentally friendly and financially sustainable, supporting wildlife and also looking at ways we can use the cuttings for animal feed or as fuel for renewable energy.”

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