‘Embarrassing’ jibe as West Norfolk cuts fury grows

Residents have complained about the lack of grass cutting at North Lynn. ANL-160714-094813001
Residents have complained about the lack of grass cutting at North Lynn. ANL-160714-094813001

The state of one West Norfolk village has been branded a “disgrace” as the row over reductions in grass cutting services across the borough deepens.

Last month, West Norfolk Council leaders revealed plans to undertake a review of thr issue, following fierce criticism from communities across the area.

And, speaking at a meeting of Stoke Ferry’s parish council on Wednesday evening, ward representative Colin Sampson said: “It’s the biggest source of complaints this year.”

But one resident said the condition of grassed areas in the village was a “disgrace” and “embarrassing” because of the reduction in cuts.

The meeting also heard that the parish’s own contractor had to make an additional cut of areas around the playing field ahead of celebrations marking the Queen’s 90th birthday two weeks ago, after the work was not fully completed.

Mr Sampson said: “We’re well aware that this year has gone pear-shaped and changes are being implemented all round.”

He told the meeting the main cause of the current problem was the sharp reductions in central government grants to councils.

He said that, where the borough council had previously received around two thirds of the cost of cutting grass that is the responsibility of Norfolk County Council, that money had now been reduced to “practically nil”.

And he added that some parishes were already looking at either taking over the responsibility for grass cutting themselves or paying the borough council for extra provision.

But he warned: “If we want to maintain the level of service we have been used to, we, the people, are going to have to pay more for it. It’s as simple as that.”

Last week, Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee voted to carry out a full cut of rural verges in the county during July and August.

The move followed concerns over the impact of the high grass on traffic safety.

The committee will also carry out its own review of grass cutting policies this autumn.

Chairman Martin Wilby said: “Given the wet summer we’ve been having, and the effect this has had on our verges which are growing at a rate of knots, I know there are some people who are genuinely very concerned about the visibility on our rural roads.

“We need to ensure we’re striking the right balance between road safety and looking after our wildlife. The safety of all road users in Norfolk is extremely important.

“I have listened to people’s concerns, and I believe cutting the verges now is the right thing to do to improve visibility on our rural roads, and try to help make them safer for all road users.”