Overgrown Hastings grass verges slammed as ‘dangerous’

Residents with Cllr Rankin SUS-180619-130851001
Residents with Cllr Rankin SUS-180619-130851001

The state of the town’s grass verges have been slammed by residents and borough councillors.

Many have become so overgrown that they pose a danger to motorists and pedestrians crossing the road as the view is obscured by tall grass, they said.

Cllrs Batsford and Berelson with residents cutting the grass SUS-180619-131020001

Cllrs Batsford and Berelson with residents cutting the grass SUS-180619-131020001

Residents of Conquest ward met with ward councillor John Rankin on Friday (June 15) to conduct a walkabout, highlighting their concerns about the state of the weeds and grass verges, especially at busy road junctions, in their area.

Cllr Rankin said: “There is no excuse to leave areas of the town looking like this. Not only are the verges and weeds unsightly, they are also a danger to road users’ visibility and encourage litter and dog fouling.

“I am aware that the wildflowers are good for bees but these verges are not planted wildflower meadows and for the authorities to use this as some kind of justification for leaving them in such an overgrown condition is unacceptable.” He said that one resident in his ward had remarked that they feel embarrassed to invite friends and relatives to Hastings to visit them, because of the weeds and overgrowth, as well as the amount of litter and rubbish.

East Sussex County Council is responsible for the grass cutting service across the county.

This year it decided to cut the service’s budget by £400,000 in order to make savings.

Residents of Park Crescent and Tenterden Rise recently joined St Helen’s ward councillors Antonia Berelson and Andy Batsford to tackle an overgrown grass verge in their neighbourhood.

Cllr Batsford said: “We just want to say a huge thank you to all those residents that came out and put in a really hard shift in to get this grass area under control.

“All the residents would love to see this area managed with more wildflowers to attract wildlife and bees but the grass has got so long it was almost dangerous, as you couldn’t see around the corner in your car. It was just collecting rubbish and mess.”

Cllr Berelson said: “Having only been a St Helen’s councillor for a short time it was so lovely to see the community spirit that we have in our ward and now that the grass area is under control we can now think about planting and seeding some wildflowers and setting up a small community group to manage it and to make it a real asset for the community.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “Due to reductions in central government funding, we’ve had to make savings of £110 million since the start of the decade and a further £17 million savings this financial year. Regrettably, this means that we have no choice but to reduce spending across all departments.

“Earlier this year, full council approved a budget which included savings of £400,000 from the grass cutting service, to be achieved by reducing the number of cuts in urban areas from six to two each year.

“We do recognise the value residents place on grass cutting, and subsequently held a consultation with local borough, district, town and parish councils, who were offered the chance to take on responsibility for urban grass cutting themselves or pay the county council to continue cutting the grass six times a year.

“Hastings is one of those areas where these options were not taken up and therefore grass in the borough will be cut twice a year.

“The county council will continue to fulfil its statutory duty to cut grass as and when required where there is a road safety requirement to do so, such as at junctions.”