"Disgraceful" grass verges spark calls for action in Stone
Stone’s community leaders are considering asking residents if they are willing to pay extra to the town council to maintain grass verges and green spaces in the future.
Town councillors were told almost two years ago that Staffordshire County Council was cutting back on non-essential services as it battled to balance its books. But the town council is now unsure which areas of green space and grass verges have continued to be maintained by the authority and is calling for answers.
Last week town councillors hit out at the condition of areas including the entrance to the Whitebridge Estate, where a bench has been almost hidden by undergrowth – and the A34 at The Fillybrooks, where long grass and other plants are affecting road visibility for drivers turning out of a junction.
Councillor Rob Kenney said: “They were saying to us they were going to stop cutting grass in some areas. If that was the case they should have informed us. I think it’s absolutely disgraceful some of the areas they have chosen, especially the one on Whitebridge by the two roundabouts, which is the northern gateway to the town.
“There is a bench you can’t see because it is overgrown and there are wildflower beds but you can’t see them.
“I would like us to contact the county council and ask them to tell us of the areas which haven’t been cut. Then what we need to do is consider our options – my thought is we ask the public if they are willing to pay extra in their town council precept to take this on.”
Councillor Philip Leason said: “I think it is unfair on the voluntary groups like Stone in Bloom, who do a tremendous amount of work. They planted flowerbeds at the bottom of Whitebridge Lane but you can’t see them because it is overgrown with grass.
“Regarding asking people if they are prepared to pay extra for us to maintain them that’s double taxation – they are already paying.”
But following the meeting last Tuesday the county council confirmed that the A34 at The Fillybrooks is included as part of a Rural High Speed Road programme of grass cutting with enhanced traffic management arrangements, which receives three cuts per year. The second of the annual cuts on the A34 started on Monday from the island at Tittensor and is working south toward Stafford.
County councillor Helen Fisher, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “There have been no reductions in grass cutting this year, but the persistent wet weather has meant there has been some delays to our grass-cutting programme in many areas.
“Areas such as the Fillybrooks and the entrance to the Whitebridge Industrial Estate will require careful traffic management, due to their proximity to main roads.
“Discussions are still ongoing around grass cutting for the next financial year, and we will be in touch with all local councils later in the year to explain what the new specification will look like.”
County, town and borough councillor Jill Hood told Tuesday’s meeting she was due to be meeting with a new highways officer on Thursday, July 11.
She added: “I am hoping she will have the answers for me. When I am pulling out of my house now I’m in danger because you can’t see cars coming as the grass is so high.
“Being fair to the county council, nearly two years ago they spelled it out plain and simple there would be no budget for quite an enormous amount of things they normally do for us. They warned us about this.
“Our best path would be to join forces with the smaller parish councils and come up with some budgets, joining together for grass cutting and road sweeping.”