Sheffield verges not maintained despite Amey receiving new mowers

Debra Lake in her overgrown garden at Binstead Drive which should be maintained by the council
Debra Lake in her overgrown garden at Binstead Drive which should be maintained by the council
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Grass verges across the city are still causing problems for residents, despite Amey receiving 32 new mowers last month.

Amey received the new equipment to help them carry out grass cutting as part of the Streets ahead programme, on behalf of Sheffield City Council.

Long grass on verges at Coisley Hill Roundabout

Long grass on verges at Coisley Hill Roundabout

Despite this, many residents have recently complained about the state of grass, which begs the question, why have they not used their new equipment?

In some areas verges have been left to grow over 4ft high, which has frustrated residents and means that contractors have not met requirements set out in the highways contract.

The Streets Ahead contract says that standard grass should not be more than 7.5cm high, and that contractors should carry out regular inspections to make sure this is being met.

One resident reported of 3ft high grass at the sides of the A61 between Southey Green Road and Grenoside, much higher than the standard set for contractors.

Debra says the long grass meant she couldn't open her windows as flies would come in

Debra says the long grass meant she couldn't open her windows as flies would come in

Streets Ahead Account Director, Darren Butt had previously blamed a recent fluctuation in weather conditions for the unprecedented rate of grass growth and the late start to grass cutting.

The council say that in preparation for the summer months, teams of workers from Amey will be clearing litter from verges before mowing the grass and clearing any excess clippings from footpaths and roads afterwards, returning at regular intervals until October as per requirements of their contract.

And according to highways supervisor Paul Elms, they have got the job in hand.

“We’ve had a later start than anticipated with the prolonged bad weather," he said. "But with spring well under way, about 40 Streets Ahead workers will be out trimming the verges on new mowers provided by our supply chain partner, HSS.”

Unkempt grass verges on Rainbow Close, Hackenthorpe

Unkempt grass verges on Rainbow Close, Hackenthorpe

However, many residents have reported of grass verges that haven't been cut at all this year.

Robert Owen of Shiregreen Lane said: "What a load of rubbish from Darren Butt blaming the weather for making the growth of grass unpredictable.

"The only reason the grass has grown to such an unruly state is because it has not been cut this year."

Ken Tomlinson said residents should get a tax rebate due to the lack of maintenance.

The state of the grass verges near Hartland Avenue, Sothall

The state of the grass verges near Hartland Avenue, Sothall

He said: "Now that we never get the grass cut and the streets swept and the litter cleaned up, isn't a rebate overdue to the folks who pay their council tax?

"I've never seen the streets and verges looking so filthy and unkempt."

It's not just roadside verges that are causing frustration for the people of Sheffield.

Debra Lake, 53, has lived in a ground floor flat on Binsted Drive, near Southey Green, for three and a half years.

The flats are maintained by the council, who are responsible for looking after the communal areas and outdoor spaces.

However, despite reporting overgrown grass in the communal areas three times, Debra says she can't make full use of her garden because the council aren't doing their job.

Verges are impairing motorist's vision on Coisley Hill roundabout

Verges are impairing motorist's vision on Coisley Hill roundabout

Debra initially reported the long grass outside her window to her local Housing Office, but was told they couldn't deal with the matter.

She said: "I can't sit in the garden it's so long. In Summer I want to be able to open my windows for some fresh air, but I can't because if I do flies and midges come in.

"I know it's also a hazard other places for drivers, you can't see when you're pulling out and on roundabouts.

"It's full of nettles. I have my grandchildren round once a week and I can't let them out in the garden."

She says that it seems like one rule for the council, and another for the tenants.

"As a tenant they warn you if your back garden isn't clean, and threaten you with eviction," she added. "But if they leave the gardens a mess it's a different matter."

According to Debra, the council haven't been to cut the grass at all this year, but have cut the grass verges on the other side of the road.

She said: "A few months ago some young lads came out to look at it but they didn't touch it, they stayed a while and played on their phones and left."

"It's causing me anxiety, I can't even open my windows on a summer's day how bad is that."

Robert Owen agreed: "In my tenancy agreement with Sheffield Council it says I must keep my garden tidy, so that it does not become overgrown or spoil the look of the surrounding area.

"If tenants do not abide by this they could find their selves homeless."

Councillor Jim Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety said: “When issues are brought to our attention we deal with them as quickly as possible. The communal grass areas around Binsted Drive were cut this morning.

"Residents wishing to report issues about grass cutting on estates can call us on 0114 2500500 and we will be happy to help them with their queries.”

The contract between Amey and Sheffield City Council is part of a 25 year highway maintenance project that promised to transform our highways within five years of it's start in 2012, and maintain them to a high standard during the remainder of the contract.

It is one of the largest highway contracts Sheffield has seen, but in 2017 it underwent 'vital-cost saving changes' according to Darren Butt.

He said: "Whilst this means that a reduction in grass cutting will be seen on main routes and rural verges predominately, the changes to the programme will be agreed to ensure minimal impact on Sheffield residents and the affected roads are currently under review.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the delay and can reassure people that we are doing all we can to ensure the programme gets back on track as soon as possible."

If you have any issues with grass growth on verges that is obstructing vision when driving you can report it to Streets Ahead on 0114 2734567.