‘Our grass verges are death traps’

‘Someone is going to lose their life attempting to pull out at junctions with overgrown verges’ - that’s the message several Causeway Coast and Glens councillors have sent to the Department for Infrastructure, writes Gillian Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 6:45 am

Fears that uncut grass verges could lead to accidents as towering grass limits the visibility for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians was highlighted by elected representatives when members of the council’s Environmental Services Committee received a deputation from James Morrison, Section Engineer DfI Roads Causeway Coast and Glens West and Gary Quinn, Network Maintenance Manager at the August meeting.

Committee Chair UUP Councillor Darry Wilson said: “Weeds are obviously an inconvenience, potholes are an inconvenience, street lights out are an inconvenience but the verges at the junctions, particularly this year, are a death trap.

“I drive a normal size car and I’m 6 foot 2 and not sitting very low down and I find it very, very difficult to see at some verges. Your heart is in your mouth when you see some younger people driving cars, especially if they are smaller in height or driving smaller cars.

Cllr Darryl Wilson

“They are speaking to us across every political party and Independents and they are saying ‘can you please get something done with this?’”

Councillor Wilson suggested sacrificing grass cutting somewhere where it’s not so important to enable the DfI Roads to do a third cut on the verges.

He continued: “Is your Department appealing to the Minister or further up the chain, are you relaying the fears you hear from elected representatives or are we going to be revisiting this again next year and the year after and the year after that?

“You’ve problems there that are an inconvenience and you have problems there that are a matter of life and death, that’s the main concern.”

DUP Alderman Alan Robinson agreed with the Chair adding: “Someone is going to lose their life pulling out in front of a car.”

Gary Quinn, Network Maintenance Manager said he ‘could not disagree’ with the councillors’ comments before adding: “We as road engineers know what is needed with regards to routine maintenance but we simply don’t have the funds to deliver on what we would like.

“Over last year we had between £4/500,000 in resource, that is a very minimal budget when you consider what we need to do.

“Within that budget we have to carry out responsive patching, carry out grass cutting, clean our gullies where we have those cleaned by external contractors and have a full programme of weed treatment.

“We have tried to improve things in terms of patching, in and around the grass. We are working with your colleagues in council and we are looking at better ways of working in and around the don’t mow let it grow idea.”

Councillor Wilson suggested if Mr Quinn’s department has the ear of the Minister, the one message he should take from the meeting is that ‘people are taking their life in their hands at road ends during the summer months’.