'It encourages wildlife': Council’s answer to angry residents who want to see grass cut
Fed-up residents are demanding council bosses prioritise grass-cutting after seeing cemeteries, parkland and playgrounds turned into “overgrown jungles”. Reporter Lucy Roue spoke to families about what they want to see done...
PENSIONER Beryl Fallows insists a playground near her home is so overgrown it is no longer safe for her grandchildren to play there.
The 83-year-old, of Hethersett Walk, Bentilee, used to love taking the youngest members of her family to a small brook with ducks near her home.
But she says that is now impossible as the grass is now so difficult to walk through.
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The retired pottery worker said: "The council is definitely not cutting the grass like it used to.
"It is meant to be a children's playground but because the place looks a mess people let their dogs foul the place up. It is disgusting.
"It's a real shame because when the grandchildren come they can't play there anymore.
"It was meant for families to use but it is more like a wasteland."
Across the city in Norton, Brian Simpson says there are similar problems where he lives.
A small field where the 73-year-old used to go for a stroll is now virtually impassable. The retired highway department worker, of Yarnbrook Grove, said: "It has been 12 months since they cut the grass – it is absolutely ridiculous.
"I was told by the city council that they wouldn't trim it until the end of the season but it will be too late then.
"They used to cut it five times a year and now they just aren't bothering, it's like a jungle.
"We want them to come and sort it out – it would only take an hour to cut."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council says it has had to trim £3 million from its budget for green space and waste collection. And a report, prepared by the city renewal overview and scrutiny committee, reveals the authority's 'scare resources' are now being concentrated on Stoke-on-Trent's nine major parks.
The council claims its new policy is helping to encourage wildlife to flourish in the Potteries.
But Thomas Greensmith, of Priorfield Close, Longton, insists the longer grass is instead attracting vermin.
The 71-year-old retired BT engineer, who has lived in his home for 55 years, says a small field off March Road has now become a no-go zone.
Thomas added: "A few years back we had rats in the area and the grass cutting stopped all that. This year I have phoned the council three times but nothing has been done. I don't believe they are preserving the land for animals, it sounds like cost-cutting to me."
Resident Roy Findler, aged 71, of Leek New Road, said: "I have never seen it in such a state before.
"If it is just left to grow then no-one can benefit from it. I think it is wrong after we pay so much in rates."
Hardial Bhogal, the council's director city renewal, said: "We continue to maintain path edges, fire break areas and land for recreational play, but are now only mowing the wider area once in late summer.
"This maintenance regime is encouraging more wildlife, birds and flowers to grow.
"We have explained the new arrangements to residents who have inquired about the changes."