‘DIY’ grass cutting may be the way forward for villagers

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When it comes to cutting back overgrown verges and footpaths, villagers are being warned West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is facing increasing difficulty finding the money to do it.

And now they have been warned they may have to resort to ‘do-it-yourself’ schemes.

Villagers told members of the county council’s north local committee there were many areas where roadside verges were overgrown and footpaths were becoming obliterated.

But chairman of the committee Michael Brown said although it would be foolhardy of them to cut back vegetation beside busy roads “on sleepy by roads, of which in our part of the world, there are many single track roads, if local people can take a pair of secateurs and help themselves, I’d recommend that to you.”

David Imlach, chairman of Cocking Parish Council told the meeting his ‘bugbear’ was the lack of roadside verge and footpath grass cutting: “It’s not only Cocking but other parishes as well and what is so annoying is that when I brought this up a few months ago. I was told the contract was operating but the county council didn’t know what the contractors were doing.”

Jonathan Ullmer, WSCC’s head of highways said there had been confusion about ‘where the urban grass cutting started and where the rural cutting ended’. Urban grass cutting was done seven times a year, but rural cuts were down to three times annually.

“These are issues we are trying to iron out especially north of the Downs”

He said information about grass cutting was available on the county council’s website. But he warned some rural paths had ‘fallen by the wayside’ and he was writing to parish councils to find out ‘how we can help you to help us’. This could be through providing equipment or training resources.

”One parish councillor said obliteration of road signs was a problem.

“We are not doing as much as we could, it is extremely challenging at the moment with the budget situation. We have to find other ways of doing this work,” Mr Ullmer told him.