Grass Cutting – Explaining The Changes
Why has Gwynedd Council reduced the cutting of grass on road verges, and in playgrounds and cemeteries?
The government has decided to significantly reduce the amount of money it spends on local government. This means that the amount of money Gwynedd Council receives from the government towards the cost of funding local services in our area will be cut by an estimated £19 million between April 2014 and March 2018.
At the same time, the Council needs an extra £29 million to pay for the cost of increasing demand for some essential services such as care and support for older and vulnerable people.
These two factors mean that Gwynedd Council simply has no option but to cut some services. These include reducing the number of times the Council cuts grass in some locations.
What is the Council’s grass cutting policy?
Towns and Villages – as part of the package of service cuts that were agreed by councillors at a meeting of the full Council in March 2016, grass in towns and villages is now generally cut three times a year (or six times a year for landscaped open spaces in towns) rather than three to eight times a year as was previously the case.
Children’s play areas – as part of the package of service cuts that were agreed by councillors at a meeting of the full Council in March 2016, grass in the 131 Gwynedd Council-maintained children’s play areas are now limited to six cuts a year rather than every month during the growing season as was previously the case.
Cemeteries – as part of the package of service cuts that were agreed by councillors at a meeting of the full Council in March 2016, grass in the 16 Gwynedd Council-maintained public cemeteries is now limited to five cuts a year rather than seven or eight times a year as was previously the case.
Rural roads outside 30mph zones – verges are cut once a year, with additional cutting carried out in areas where overgrowth is considered to pose a particular risk to road-users. This policy has been operational since April 2015.
Trunk roads – Gwynedd Council is responsible for maintaining trunk road verges in the county on behalf of the Welsh Government. In accordance with the Welsh Government’s requirements, trunk road verges in Gwynedd are currently cut twice a year.
Surely reductions in services like this should only be taken as a last resort?
Absolutely. Gwynedd Council has, and is continuing to, make every effort to drive down the need for service cuts, including:
Working more efficiently – £26 million of efficiency savings have already been approved or delivered by the Council and this efficiency drive is continuing;
Generating income – introducing or increasing fees for some services so that other vital services such as protecting vulnerable people are safeguarded;
Increasing Council Tax – an increase of 3.97% was approved for 2016/17 and the Council’s financial strategy recommends a similar increase for 2017/18.
Unfortunately however, even when all these steps have been taken, Gwynedd Council still faces a funding gap of almost £5 million up until March 2018 alone. This remaining sum can only be delivered by implementing 49 service cuts which include reducing the frequency of grass cutting in some locations (as outlined above).
Why isn’t my Council Tax cut to reflect this reduced service?
It is a fact that 73 pence in every £1 of the money Gwynedd Council has available to spend on local services comes from the government in the form of a grant, whilst only 27 pence in every £1 is raised locally through Council Tax.
As a result, cuts in the grant Gwynedd Council receives from the government would mean that Council Tax would have to be increased very significantly to simply make up the difference. Between April 2014 and March 2018 alone, the amount Gwynedd Council receives from the government will be cut by around £19 million.
How did you decide on these cuts to services?
During the autumn of 2015, Gwynedd Council carried out the most comprehensive public consultation exercise in its history in which local people were invited to have their say on 118 possible service cut options.
In response, feedback was received from more than 2,100 local people and organisations. All the feedback received was then carefully evaluated by all Gwynedd councillors before they agreed on the 49 service cuts that would be needed.
Of the 49 cuts that were approved by councillors at the full Council meeting in March 2016, 41 matched the cut options that received the least support from local people in the public consultation exercise.
Weather variations affect the rate of growth, how will the Council deal with this?
The decision has been taken to reduce the frequency of grass cutting. It must unfortunately be accepted that this will lead to deterioration in the tidiness of some areas at certain times of the year.
Every effort is made to respond to localised problems caused by the change in the policy, however as the Council is responsible for 131 playgrounds, 16 cemeteries and over 2,500 miles of road verges, not all issues can be addressed simultaneously.
In response to the recent spate of growth, the Council has brought forward the next scheduled cut in locations throughout the county, and this work is being carried out as quickly as possible.
What should I do if I have a specific concern?
Particularly problems or concerns should be reported to the Council by visiting: www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru and clicking on “Report a Problem” or call us on 01766 771000.
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