RECENT bad weather and budget cuts have been blamed for Huntingdonshire District Council’s grass-cutting under-achievement across the district.

“The large volume of rainfall experienced over recent weeks, combined with warm temperatures has meant that the grass is growing far quicker than would normally be expected,” said a council spokesman.

“In some places, such as Riverside Park, St Neots, there is still standing water in areas where at this time of year the ground would usually be dry. In many other locations the ground appears dry, but is still too soft for grass cutting machinery.”

In an average season the difficult period for grass cutting would be April and early May, but this year it has extended into June, with no end in sight, HDC said.

“The overall effect of this exceptional wet weather has delayed the completion of each cycle of grass-cutting because mowers have to pass several times over the same area of ground to cut the grass to the right length.

“There is also the additional problem of increasing numbers of locations where machinery cannot gain access to undertake any cutting at all due to the soft and wet ground conditions.”

Recent cuts of £150,000 in the council’s grounds maintenance budget have also meant that certain areas of grass are now cut only once a year at the end of the growing season in late September or early October, with a mown path through the grass maintained the rest of the time.

“It is considered that wildlife in these areas would benefit by not being cut as often, supporting biodiversity in the district. However the unseasonal weather has produced ideal growing conditions for this grass which means that these spaces are becoming much more overgrown more quickly,” HDC said.

Councillor Darren Tysoe, whose executive responsibilities include operations, said: “We can only apologise to residents if they feel that some areas are looking untidy, but we are working hard to resume a normal service and hope that the weather improves soon.”