independent

Saturday 1 November 2014

Criticism of grass cutting programme

JOHN MANNING

Published 02/10/2012 | 17:00

THE CONTROVERSIAL council policy that allows public greens across the county to grow into meadow and a reduced grass cutting programme has been slammed once again at Balbriggan Town Council where there was a call to put young offenders to work for the council cutting grass.

Cllr Gráinne Maguire called for a plan to be put in place in Balbriggan for the maintenance of all open spaces but when the council blamed a lack of resources and manpower for it reduced grass cutting programme, her town council colleague, Cllr Sean Brown (NP) said that offenders given community service should be put to work cutting the grass on public greens. He was reacting to a county council report on the issue which said: 'Resources available to the Operations Department have been reducing year on year due to the moratorium on recruitment, incentivised retirements, natural retirements and reduced budgets.

'Meanwhile the quantum of open space to be maintained has increased greatly in the last 2 years with further sizable areas of open space associated with the new estates of North West Balbriggan expected to be taken in charge in the coming months.' After also blaming the poor summer weather, the council said: 'A review of open space policy seeking workable solutions to the ever increasing demands on reduced resources is under way at the moment and a draft is expected to be available for public consultation in the coming months.' Cllr Maguire said she understood resources were tight but the state of the town did not compare well to other areas of the county. She said it was time for the town council to ' take charge' of the issue and devise a plan to tackle the problem.

Cllr Dermot Murray (FF) said large areas of the town were being 'neglected' and it was not fair to expect the Tidy Towns committee to deal with it and the county council had to play a bigger role. But it was an angry Cllr Brown who said a lack of manpower could no longer be accepted as an excuse because there were hundreds of community orders handed out in the local district court and those could be served working on grass cutting. He called for the county council and the probation service to sit down and put arrangements in place to have community service orders carried out for work that where the council is short of manpower. He said that some areas of the town were 'absolutely disgusting' and added: 'Summer was depressing enough without driving around Balbriggan looking at some of the most depressing and chaotic open spaces that were totally unkempt.'

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