Residents say “clean up this terrible mess” as grass and weeds grow to waist-height

Squires Court, Eaton Socon,

Squires Court, Eaton Socon, - Credit: Archant

Residents across Huntingdonshire are calling on the district and county councils to act to tackle an increasing number of overgrown grass verges which are making neighbourhoods look “a terrible mess”.

People living in Huntingdon, St Ives, and St Neots, have been faced with scruffy looking and weed-infested verges, with some having to suffer areas of grass which have grown to around waist-height.

The problems have been particularly acute following a period of changeable weather, but many say the issue has resulted from a change in which authority is responsible for looking after which verges.

David Denton, from St Ives, said: “The grass is 10 inches in the highest part. It’s just such a mess, and the fact it’s outside your own home, I mean you take a sense of pride in where you live.”

Councillors in St Neots have received an avalanche of complaints about overgrown verges and weeds after delays in carrying out the work and funding cuts have left vegetation waist-high in some areas.

Heavy rainfall in recent weeks means weeds and grass is now growing across paths and blocking gullies and drains. The town’s new mayor, Derek Giles, says the system for maintaining verges and public footpaths is split between three council authorities and is confusing for people.

“As a council, we have had more complaints about this than any other issue, ever,” he told The Hunts Post.

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“There are three authorities responsible for public grass cutting, St Neots Town Council is responsible for village greens, cemeteries and some playing fields and these are the areas that are mown regularly and look nice. Cambridgeshire County Council is responsible for the upkeep of grass verges, but contracts Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) to do the work and it is HDC that should be keeping the paths and gullies weed-free. Massive funding cuts mean there is currently only enough money for two or three cuts each year, rather than the seven or eight we were getting.”

Cllr Giles said the town council had offered to take on the contract to cut the grass verges, but has been told it can’t have the contact as HDC has invested large sums of money in new grass cutting equipment.

Helen Bryan, who lives in Prince’s Drive, told The Hunts Post, the long grass near her home had become a health hazard.

“I have sent emails to the district and county council and just get told that different people responsible. It is becoming a health hazard as dog walkers can no longer find their dog’s poo in the grass to pick it up.”

In a statement, Robin Carter, executive councillor for Environment, Streetscene and Operations at HDC, said: “The recent wet weather has caused a rapid amount of growth across Cambridgeshire, as our residents will have experienced in their own private gardens. This rapid growth has presented great difficulties It has been a real challenge, but our teams have been working hard to keep to schedule and also leave areas in a neat and tidy condition, with all strimming works also completed. We realise that this year we have struggled to maintain our very high standards.

“Huntingdonshire District Council’s grounds maintenance plan requires that all grass on its own land should be cut a minimum of eight times a year, but in exceptional weather conditions such as this season, the frequency will be increased. Based on this year’s weather, it is projected that more than eight cuts will take place before the end of the grass cutting season.

HDC also cuts grass on land owned by Cambridgeshire County Council, and this is funded for three cuts a year. We have started negotiations with the County Council to agree a change to contract specifications to better meet residents’ expectations, and these negotiations are continuing.”