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Verge-ing on the ridiculous

 
Created on 15/06/2016 @ 16:02
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Anger and concern is mounting over the state of roadside verges in the area, with grass blocking motorists views at junctions and warning road signs obscured.

MyWelshpool has been contacted by several readers concerned at the state of roadside verges in communities around Welshpool  and throughout Montgomeryshire.

Montgomeryshire AM, Russell George, is also raising the matter with Powys County Council which has responsibility for grass cutting on roadsides.

Two weeks ago the council announced a new contract for Greenfingers Landscapes Ltd to undertake the work.

It also issued a statement last week explaining why it had to cut verges in an attempt to quell the concerns of those worried about wildlife and fauna being affected.

And yet most verges in the area have been left untouched and in some cases road signs and warning signs can no longer be seen.

“After having received dozens of complaints from residents, I have taken up the issue with the responsible Cabinet member at Powys County Council to seek answers as to why the situation has been allowed to get so bad before action is taken.
 
“It is unacceptable that the over-grown grass has been allowed to get out of control. Not only is it unsightly for villages and towns across Montgomeryshire but it can be a driving hazard for motorists and dangerous for pedestrians and other road users.
 
“My understanding is that the Council’s new contractors have not been fulfilling their duties and that additional staff have now been appointed to ensure that their contractual obligations to make three-weekly visits are fulfilled without delay and the current dire situation improves.
 
“However, it is incumbent upon Powys County Council to ensure that its contractors fulfil their obligations and I would like to see a complete overhaul of this contract to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.
 
“If anyone would like to make a specific complaint about an area which remains overgrown or untidy, please report the matter to the council by emailing: complaints@powys.gov.uk  and please send me a copy by emailing russell.george@assembly.wales"

On 3 June Powys County Council said it has awarded the contract to Greenfingers Landscapes Ltd. Councillor John Brunt, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We are delighted to be able to award this contract and look forward to working together with Greenfingers Landscapes Limited. Due to the obvious seasonal nature of grass cutting operations we have for a number of years relied on third party contractors to complement the capacity of our workforce. This latest contract will provide for improved contractor management and is also more cost effective.”

The company has, apparently, a head office in Rhayader, although its depots are at Crewe, Darwen, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Leeds and Stafford. No mention is made of any depots in Powys.

Meanwhile, last week the council issued a defence of roadside verge grass cutting set agains wildlife issues.

"Powys County Council has to balance the need to conserve remaining species-rich areas with managing fast growing vegetation and preserving safe access and use of the highway itself (including access to ditches, drains and other structures). Vegetation type and growth vary from area to area but generally many verges today have summer vegetation of sufficient height to greatly reduce the visibility on bends and hills," said a statement.

"Vegetation that flops out into the road, particularly after rain, obscures the edges of the road and reducing the width of the carriageway and can be especially problematic for cyclists and pedestrians. Vegetation growing outwards on hedgebanks along narrow lanes can also significantly reduce the accessible width of the carriageway."

Councillor John Brunt, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The council is responsible for ensuring that carriageways remain open and are safe to use by everyone whilst taking into account their wildlife value. Every effort is made to minimise the cutting of verges to help preserve wildflowers and wildlife. 

"There are currently over 100 Road Verge Nature Reserves in Powys which are important for protecting wildlife and important plant species. The council works in partnership with the three Powys Wildlife Trusts to manage these verges.

“The council also currently undertakes the management of trunk road verges as instructed by the North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency.”

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