Agenda item

Grass Cutting


Councillor Keith Henson explained that the report detailed how the grass-cutting was managed, the rationale behind that management and the costs involved. The main verge mow reduced to one cut a season in 2014-15 was dictated by cuts made to the service following a review of Council Services in that year. Recognising this, the decision was made to cut in areas rather than according to road hierarchy, although there was some crossover.


The current regime was to undertake the ‘safety/visibility’ cuts first (junctions and sight lines) and then the early growth areas. Due to climatic conditions, the growth was earlier in the south and therefore, the service worked from south to north. With 70% of the network made up of Class C and Unclassified roads, getting to all the narrow lanes was a challenge. As resources were limited, it was not possible to cut all the verges at the same time, so some would be cut earlier than others, and some later, either way, there was the possibility that the timing of those cuts could attract complaints.


The contractor had been cutting the grass for many years and attempts were made not to divert the contractor from the programmed regime as there were additional costs involved in this. However, the programme would be altered if deemed necessary for highway safety reasons. An officer investigated all requests for grass-cutting received and assessed whether there was sufficient reason to divert resources. The main cut itself usually took 6 weeks to complete. A pre-season and end-of-season briefing meeting was also held with contractors.


The county was split into 10 ‘beats’ in total, 9 county beats with the trunk road separated into beat 10 which was managed on behalf of NMWTRA. The Authority constantly reviewed its service level standards to reflect the decreased budget allocation to the various highway maintenance activities. Future priorities were likely to lead to an approach focused more on risk and road safety and less on the aesthetic appearance of grassed areas that it maintained.


Reference was given to the following noted in the report:

·       Main Highways Cut

·       Amenity Grass Cutting

·       Urban Wildflower Areas

·       Roadside Reserves

·       Service Costs


Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions which were answered by Officers present. The main points raised were as follows:

·       Amenity cuts were done in-house by the Grounds Maintenance team 4 times a year. Road safety was the main reason for cutting grass.

·       Members raised concerns that some areas within their wards were not cut consistently; it was noted that different bodies could hold responsibility for the grassed area, such as housing associations and landowners. Officers agreed to share the details of what grassed areas the local authority held responsibility for across the county to enable Members to have a better understanding.

·       Historically, the county was split into two beats but in attempts to attract more contractors, it was split into 10 beats in recent years and a meet-the-buyer session was arranged during the grass-cutting procurement exercise. Although a few contractors had initially shown an interest, only two contractors had tendered for the work. It was noted that one of the key factors in the procurement exercise was compliance with road safety.

·       Concerns were raised with the grass cutting at the graveyard in Aberystwyth and the impact this had on the public. Questions were also raised related to the Ystwyth and Rheidol cycle path; it was noted that this had been brought to the service’s attention and would be reviewed.

·       Members asked to be kept informed of any changes to the grass-cutting programme when no political decision was required, to ensure they had the information to answer questions by the public.

·       The Service was thanked for their work and their flexibility when a request was sent by a Member to cut the grass when there was a funeral in the ward.


Following questions by the Committee Members, it was agreed to note the information.

Supporting documents: