SBC faces grass root revolt

James Anderson, Eyemouth
James Anderson, Eyemouth

A new grass-cutting regime has been introduced by Scottish Borders Council and as communities become aware of it there are rumblings of discontent across the region.

Instead of general grass areas - including cemeteries - being cut every ten days this summer they will only be cut approximately every 20 days.

The council also intends to increase wildflower areas “to improve biodiversity” and from next April they will no longer provide bedding plants, and will either plant bushes and shrubs, grass over areas, or support communities to provide their own flowers.

Most Borders communities learned of the changes via letters included with application forms for this year’s Floral Gateway competition, which were sent out last week.

Eyemouth Community Council chairman, James Anderson, said: “Needless to say Eyemouth Community Council is very disappointed by this.

“We have taken five complaints this week alone about the state of the cemetery. The spraying of weed killer around head stones leaves a disrespectful mess which upsets visitors.

“Children’s play parks are already left a mess after cutting, which will now have double the mess left behind.

“During the summer we receive complaints daily about cemetery and play park grass cutting.”

Mr Anderson also hit out at East Berwickshire councillors for not bringing the changes to the attention of local community councils: “It’s a very serious situation when our elected SBC councillors do not consult the public on what they have voted on and chosen to implement.

“Volunteers are being taken advantage of by SBC at every turn and utilised as a free work force.”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson explained: “The council is carrying out a review of its neighbourhood services to identify and implement changes to the way we deliver some of our services to communities.

“This is to ensure environmental and financial sustainability of our services with the views and involvement of communities being key to the review.

“This includes grass cutting, with some parks and open spaces, grass verges and some amenity grass areas, including steeply sloping ground, looking different across the Borders.

“There will also be a change of approach to general amenity grass areas - including cemeteries - so grass that was previously cut once every 10 working days is cut approximately every 20 working days.

“However, maintenance of key civic spaces and sports pitches remains unchanged. Maintenance of lower amenity and steeply sloping areas is also under review.

“A successful trial was held in 2017 which saw grass cutting changed from 10 to 20 working days at 49 sites across the Scottish Borders.

“In addition, there are a number of sites we maintain which do not belong to Scottish Borders Council. We intend to review these arrangements and, where appropriate, establish a new arrangement going forward.

“More information on the Neighbourhoods Review is also available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/neighbourhoodsreview.”