Agenda item

Grass Verge Maintenance


The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services presented a report on Grass Verge Maintenance for Members consideration.


The report highlighted the Motion proposed at Full Council on 20th July 2022 to manage verges differently during 2022, the Motion was detailed as follows: -


“This Council changes its grass verge grass cutting and mowing regime to allow wildflowers to remain in bloom during the height of the season when bees, butterflies and general small wildlife rely on the pollen from wildflowers to flourish. This will not be a one size fits all approach. Council will work with local residents and Councillors to find an approach that worked for each community.”


The problem during the grass cutting season was being totally dependent on the weather. Regular mowing on the perimeters ensured that growth did not infringe on highway safety or inhibit drivers and pedestrian’s line of sight.


A number of grass verges across the District were identified in 2020 and

2021 that could be left uncut to support wildlife and pollinators without

causing concern for highway safety.


This had mixed responses from the pubic, with a strong public perception that grass should be maintained for aesthetics in residential areas, and this resulted in a number of these sites reverting to aesthetic maintenance rather than to support local habitat and plant life during 2021 and 2022.


Following discussions between the Portfolio Holder and the Environmental Services Manager, an addendum to the report was agreed. The addendum detailed the potential to reduce the Capital funding requirement in the 2023/24 financial year. This was by deferring a final decision on the purchase of a second flail mower until the end of the 2024/25 grass cutting season.


The Environmental Services Manager further explained that wildflower verges and natural verges were different. There was a lot of benefit to the habitat for wildlife. An interim measure to support what we already had was decided after an Ecologist was engaged to inform any future decisions to manage our biodiversity and to engage with our residents and Parish Council’s with regards to future grass cutting maintenance. A further decision was then taken, as explained by the Portfolio Holder not to purchase a second flail mower.


Members were fully supportive of the addendum and commented that the challenge we had was in getting the message to residents who thought we were not maintaining grass verges in order to save money.  The Council needed to get the right message out to Members and residents.


The Leader stated that she fully agreed, we were trying to meet the

Council’s environmental responsibilities.


Councillor S. R. Colella commented that he very much supported this and the Council’s responsibilities to the environment. This was one step to the

bigger picture, having adopted a Carbon Reduction Strategy. With the new

Environmental Bill UK, the Council would be required to carry out more initiatives. The Council needed the support of Members of the Council and

residents and to tighten the Council Plan. Councillor Colella took the

opportunity to thank the Environmental Services Manager.


Members expressed their support of this approach and reiterated that it was important to educate and have an engagement process to involve all Members.


Members further agreed with Councillor Colella that we needed a biodiversity action plan/strategy. Members highlighted that officers needed to be careful of ragwort and Himalayan balsam, which were highly invasive.


It was further noted that a biodiversity action plan/strategy might say to

leave certain hedges / grass verges that residents wanted cut.


Members further reiterated that the depot should identify the areas and

determine which areas would be left and inform local Members. Local

Members could also provide the depot with a list of areas to cut / leave.

This would help to reduce the number of complaints received from residents who thought that the Council were not maintaining some areas. It was also suggested that signage could be erected on the areas that were being left explaining why, and that this could also help alleviate complaints.


The Environmental Services Manager informed Members that they had carried out various ad hoc trials and this had identified communication issues, but they had erected some signage for areas left uncut. The new admin post would help support communications with local residents and officers worked closely with Worcestershire County Council Highways Team in maintaining visibility splays on the highway. Officers recognised the issues in supporting wildlife with some residents agreeing to the principles but not wanting grass verges left outside their homes not being maintained.




1)    Cabinet accepts the proposal; and


2)    agrees for the Capital and Revenue Budgets to be adjusted for the identified financial years, as set out in the Grass Verge Maintenance – Addendum, as detailed below:-


Supporting documents: