Overgrown hedges on the A26 Ballymena
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has supported a motion highlighting “frustration” over lack of grass-cutting and maintenance.
A motion proposed by Ballymena Alliance Councillor John Hyland has called on the council to engage with key staff in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Department for Infrastructure and other statutory bodies “to identify land ownership easily to enable action to keep areas clean, tidy and maintained”.
“We share our communities’ frustration with the lack of maintenance such as grass-cutting and fly-tipping and general care shown to areas of land within our communities,” the motion said.
“We take pride in our borough, its green spaces, towns and villages in between and we recognise that everyone must play their part to ensure its cleanliness and maintenance in conjunction with landowners and other statutory bodies.”
Last month, the council’s interim chief executive Valerie Watts told councillors she has been noticing a “significant number of increased complaints about grounds maintenance issues generally and about maintenance of cemeteries and parks and open spaces”.
A staff shortage has been blamed for uncut grass and bulging bins in Larne’s Greenland Cemetery in Craigyhill.
Speaking at a meeting of the council on Monday 24 July, Cllr Hyland added:
“We regularly see examples where verges are left to overgrow, removing green spaces for young people to play, hidden wonders become fly-tipping sites where people start to avoid visiting and roads scattered with litter looking incredibly unsightly.”
He spoke of a “growing frustration of communities regarding the lack of upkeep and care shown to areas of land”.
“One of the fundamental roles that we play as elected representatives is reporting these issues on behalf of residents but on far too many occasions, we are hit with obstacles and red tape surrounding who has responsibility due to land ownership being split between council, the various Assembly departments, Housing Executive as well as other bodies and the regular passing the buck in regards to taking responsibility causing issues for all.
“By forging strong partnerships, we can create a system that identifies responsibility easily and implements effective solutions promptly.”
Last year, the Department for Infrastructure (Roads) announced a single swathe will be cut along the verges on the “strategic road network” twice per year. Other areas that are needed for road safety purposes such as sight lines at junctions will also be cut at least twice annually.
“A similar approach will be introduced on heavier trafficked rural roads and on lighter trafficked rural roads, one cut will be carried out late in the growing season.”
Department for Infrastructure (DfI) says:
“When cutting grass, DfI aims to balance road safety needs with protecting the environment and encouraging biodiversity. Plants, flowers and vegetation growing on verges are a great source of habitat for pollinators (including bees) and other wildlife.
“This means cutting less where possible but, with road safety of vital importance, grass will be cut as frequently as necessary to make sure visibility at junctions and other places along roads is not blocked.”