To cut or not to cut the grass - that was the question at last week’s Causeway Coast and Glens Council meeting.
And last Tuesday night’s meeting of Council’s Environmental Services Committee voted to continue to cut grass, previously maintained by the DRD, despite the cost to council of £57,000.
The committee considered two options, the first to stop cutting the ‘DRD grass’ and the second, to continue to cut DRD grass and look at ways of making savings through campaigns such as ‘Don’t Mow, Let it Grow which would reduce the area and frequency of cutting. They also considered re-assessing the current practice of maintaining grassed areas for other third parties.
Director of Environmental Services Aidan McPeak said: “Earlier on in the year DRD sent a letter notifying us that they were stopping all funding of grass cutting within the district and borough. that equated to £57,000 of income we were getting for the grass cutting of areas, mainly in urban areas, towns and villages throughout the borough.”
Councillor George Duddy was adamant that the DRD should take responsibility. “I don’t think we should be cutting DRD grass because rest assured the DRD won’t want to take it back.
“We should make the public aware whose responsibility it is if we decide to step away, lay the blame firmly with the DRD and Stormont.”
Alderman William King’s concern was a health and safety issue.
He said: “I don’t want to see long grasses on roundabouts and approaches to the towns.
“It’s not very good when tourists come to the area and it also becomes a serious issue as good visibility at a road junction is essential.”
Alderman Cole added: “Initially the people in Garvagh were aghast at the long grass and impression it caused coming in to the area but after some group consultations on the Don’t Mow, Let it Grow campaign they bought in to it.
“I agree we shouldn’t take on the DRD grass and it’s not moral to put the cost on to our ratepayers. We can’t just spend £57,000 willy nilly. They shouldn’t withdraw from what they are responsible for, however, we have a tourist mecca here and it’s important that we keep the tourist areas clear.”
Whilst the committee agreed that the DRD were shirking their responsibility, there was agreement that the grass areas of the CC&G needed to be maintained.
Councillor Boyd Douglas said: “I’m not opposed to wild flower meadows but the Causeway Coast and Glens Council want to encourage tourism and we need good roadsides and they need to be maintained. The rate payers will condemn us if we don’t cut the grass and keep it tidy.”
Councillor Gerry Mullan was extremely unhappy with the situation.
He told the meeting: “You have to give it to the DRD, they pulled off a great move.
“They know the council will succumb in the end and maintain it properly.
“I think the DRD have acted shamefully.
“We have a tourist area and they know the council will take the flack.
“I think we should write to them and tell them to get their lawnmowers out! I feel very angry about this.”
The proposal to carry out grass cutting was passed.