Councillors in Skegness cutting up rough over grass bill

Skegness Town Council will be cutting grass in areas where ownership is disputed. ANL-181209-090342001
Skegness Town Council will be cutting grass in areas where ownership is disputed. ANL-181209-090342001

Grassed off councillors have decided to foot the bill to keep streets looking tidy - but protest strongly to the local authority responsible for dumping the responsibility on them.

The problem of who will cut the grass in disputed areas, where ownership is not clear, was raised at Wednesday’s Skegness Town Council meeting.

Since Lincolnshire County Council pulled the plug on funding for maintaining grassed verges, the town council has employed its own team. Start-up costs to the taxpayer were estimated in October last year to be £44,293, which is expected to rise.

The county council provided a list and maps of designated areas they would allow the town council to cut, agreeing to pay 4p per meter squared for two health and safety cuts per year. The town council covers the cost for the rest of the year.

However, there have been complaints to the town council about areas not on the list and town clerk Steve Larner warned councillors this was only likely to get worse.

The areas in dispute include Roman Bank, adjacent to the golf course, Precinct Crescent, Lumley Avenue/ Crescent, Gleneagles Drive/ Westway, Church Road South, the path between Wainfleet Road, Victoria Road and the Trainline, Churchill Avenue and Westway.

Mr Larner presented three options to the councillors for their consideration - to not cut the grass where ownership is not known, accept increase in cost and cut all areas which need it, or cut the grass where ownership is not known when there is a complaint, and give the town clerk delegated powers to make the decision. The extra cost of cutting additional areas would be £5,000, he said.

Coun Mark Anderson said: “It’s disgraceful Lincolnshire County Council are being allowed to get away with this. We are paying for a service we are not getting and because of this we are paying double. But we are going to have to bite the bullet and carry on with it.”

However, Coun Danny Brookes didn’t agree. He said: “I wonder how long it will be before we have the responsibility of lights and pavements. I say we don’t do it, but let the public know it’s the county council letting down the town.”

Coun Steve Kirk pointed out it wouldn’t matter whose fault it was if the grass didn’t get cut. He said: “I have to say since we took on responsibility for cutting grass I don’t think the town has ever looked so good.”

He put forward option two, to take on responsibility for cutting areas including those disputed, but to back it with a strong letter of protest to Lincolnshire County Council’s new chief executive Keith Ireland - a move supported by councillors.

Coun Dick Edginton said: “As a former county councillor for 16 years I can’t say that I have known the relationship with the county council to be so strained.”