Concern at £302k grass-cutting bill

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Concerns have been raised at the massive £302,800 cost to ratepayers for cutting grass on non-council owned land across the Borough.

It has been revealed that Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council forked out the £302k despite the council having a policy not to cut any non-council owned land.

Sinn Fein Cllr Gemma McKenna said she was ‘concerned’ and asked why this was the case.

The Head of Environmental Services said historically Transport NI had paid Councils across NI a small fee for cutting grass alongside the roadside verges within town and village limits.

For this Council received £38,000 and was based upon basic Road Service standards, however, as the Council maintained the lands to a much higher standard the cost rose to around £302,800.

In May 2015, due to financial pressures, Transport NI stopped all cutting grass and withdrew funding for the grass cutting carried out by Councils. However the Council agreed to continue with the legacy maintenance agreements across the Borough.

A spokesperson for the Council said: “In order to ensure that land throughout the Borough looks clean and tidy, Council maintains non-Council owned land, which has historically been cut by Council, in line with Council owned land.

“This means land is cut to a much higher standard and cut more regularly. Road Service costs are based upon a 1m rough strip cut whereas Council costs are attributed to a larger area of cut and to a much higher amenity standard.

“This has been agreed by Council in line with ratepayers’ concerns.

“It makes a significant difference to the look and feel of the Borough.”

When asked if the Council will continue to cut grass on non-council owned land though not receiving a budget from Transport NI, the spokesperson said: “Council has decided to continue cutting non-council land, which has historically been cut by Council, to help ensure the Borough looks clean, tidy and well maintained.”