Gravesham highway maintenance contract dealt fatal blow by 'swingeing' county council cuts
PUBLISHED: 10:19 26 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:06 26 August 2016
Gravesham Borough Council has been forced to scrap its contract with KCC due to the budget reductions
‘Swingeing’ budget cuts by Kent County Council are likely to have a significant impact on the maintenance of grass verges and hedgerows alongside roads and roundabouts in the borough.
From next year, the number of times the grass is mown on Gravesham’s highways could be halved due to a 45 per cent reduction in the contract to maintain the land, to £40,000 a year.
Gravesham Borough Council’s landscaping team has been operating the soft landscaping contract on behalf of the county council, cutting grass eight times a year, and shrubs and hedges once annually.
However, the council has decided it is no longer viable to do so and the cabinet is being advised to end the arrangement at its meeting on September 5.
Deputy leader councillor David Turner said: “We have actually tended some areas for the county council more frequently than specified in the contract – effectively subsidising KCC. But this change from County Hall is a cut too far and is not going to be affordable.
“The borough council will continue to look after its own parks and open spaces to the same standard as present but residents may notice a difference between highways verges and our land.”
Gravesham was one of only four councils which had continued to maintain highways land for KCC, along with Ashford, Dover and Swale.
The county council will now have to look for a new contractor to carry out maintenance work.
A Kent County Council spokesman said: “KCC does not look after trees, hedges and shrubs on private land, which are often next to roads and pavements.
“Essentially, if your garden hedge or tree is overhanging a public footpath or road, it is your responsibility to cut it.
“District councils, parish councils and housing associations are responsible for soft landscaping maintenance on their own land.
“For rural grass on the highway, we cut a metre wide strip next to the road edge using a tractor mounted mower. We do a single cut between May and September.
“In urban grass areas we wait until six weeks after the flowering period before cutting spring flowers, such as daffodils, so they will grow the following year.
“Due to ongoing financial pressures and reductions in central government funding, urban grass maintenance will get between five and six cuts a year from 2017/18.
“However KCC Highways team are working with our district and parish colleagues to find possible solutions to mitigate this impact.
“Grass located next to roads or footpaths, normally within the town or village centre and 30mph limit has eight cuts a year between March and October - about once a month.
“Grass that is next to a road junction and is within the sight line for drivers turning in or out receives three cuts a year between April and October - about every two months.
“In order to ensure safety for the travelling public ad hoc cutting of overgrowth will always be undertaken to remove any dangerous situation particularly in relation to visibility for motorists.”
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