Town could suffer if grass cutting is axed

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Scarborough Council is facing up to a crunch decision on whether to allow grass in the borough to cease to be cut.

On Tuesday the cabinet must decide if borough taxpayers will have to fork out again to keep their town looking presentable after North Yorkshire County Council withdrew its funding for the service.

County Hall pays borough council contractors £137,000 a year to cut some of the borough’s 450,000 square metres of verges.

However, this year the contribution for grass cutting will drop to just £37,000 with only verges that pose a risk to public safety, such as on bends in roads, being cut.

The council is now faced with a number of options on how to proceed.

If the council was to take over the work to the standards that are they are currently carried out it would cost £43,000 for the first 12 months before rising to £63,000 in the second year.

Its officers have said it cannot recommend this increase to the budget, however, they have also urged the councillors not to cease negotiations with their county counterparts in the hope a deal could be reached.

The council’s officers are instead suggesting the council should reduce the amount of times grass is cut this year.

The report that will go before councillors states: “[Our recommendation is] To continue to cut all NYCC grass throughout 2015 at a reduced frequency, taking advantage of the enhanced payment this year in lieu of notice.

“This would ensure that the grass verges were maintained throughout the tourist season, however, it must be noted that the frequency of cut will reduce and standards may fall from previous years.

“It will result in the need for further negotiations to provide surety for 2016 and beyond.”

Whatever the council chooses to do the effects will be noticeable to everyone living in or visiting the borough.

The cabinet report features a stark warning.

It states: “There is a considerable risk that the borough will look neglected, grass verges will be unkempt, there will be a build-up of litter as effective street cleansing will be difficult and all of these factors may directly impact the borough as a tourist destination.”

The decision of the county to cut its grass cutting service was denounced by borough councillors when it was announced last year,

Speaking in December Whitby Councillor David Chance said the news would be met with much anger across the borough.

He said: “Put simply if your neighbour came to you and said he was not going to cut his grass any more because he couldn’t be bothered would you do it for him for free?”

His Filey counterpart, Mike Cockerill added: “We are on a hiding to nothing here.

“People will see Scarborough Council contractors cutting grass and think it is us who have made the cuts.

“They won’t know the money actually comes from the county council and it is them who have stopped the grass from being cut.”