Grass verge funds to be cut back in Norton

3:49pm Wednesday 4th June 2014

NORTON Town Council has been told that funding for the cutting of grass verges will no longer by provided by the county council from next April.

In a letter to the council, Richard Marr, county highway manager for Ryedale, said that due to the severe financial pressures North Yorkshire was facing the service was being withdrawn in towns and villages.

"Since 2011, the authority has implemented and made plans for total cuts in its spending of around £170m," he added.

" A programme of savings totalling £94m is already in train, including cuts of approximately £20m which take effect in the 12 months beginning this April. The savings will unfortunately impact on almost every service the authority provides, whether it be library provision, household waste recycling centres, or adult social care."

Mr Marr said one of the services affected was the non-statutory cutting of grass verges where it relates to amenity, rather than safety, considerations.

"The authority intends to cease providing this service from within its own resources from April next year. In essence this means from the end of this year the authority will no longer cut urban grass in towns or villages, nor will it contribute to the cutting of urban grass in those parishes where the parish council organise the cutting."

Mr Marr said the authority would also reduce the areas to be cut in rural locations, but the exact detail of this is yet to be determined.

"Although the authority is reducing or withdrawing a number of services, including amenity grass-cutting, it intends working with various groups and organisations to devise possible methods by which such services might be maintained, perhaps by the use of volunteers," he added.

Councillor Hugh Spencer, who has long-campaigned for regular grass cutting in Norton, said the news was 'very depressing'.

"In some areas farmers cut the grass verges and I wonder whether they would be prepared to carry out some work at cost," he added.

Coun Marian Hodgson suggested it may be possible to set up a semi-voluntary group.

"I realise there are health and safety issues but I wonder if these would occur if their own mowers were used - it seems to work very well in Scagglethorpe."

Coun David Lloyd-Williams said it was important the appearance of the town was maintained.

"There is a real danger that Norton could soon start looking unkempt and uncared for, it is another depressing part of local government cuts," he added.

"We really need to do something to preserve the appearance of the town both for visitors and those who live here too."

Councillors agreed to wait and see how other town and parish councils respond adjourned the matter to their July meeting.

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