The council maintains approximately 230 hectares of grassed areas including parks, open spaces, playing fields, golf courses, residential verges and roadside verges. You may have noticed that the way in which the grass is cut in your area is changing. 

This is largely due to two reasons.

Where possible, the Council is looking for opportunities to improve habitats for wildlife and has created wildflower meadow areas in parks which are deliberately managed to increase biodiversity and provide better access to wildlife for the residents of B&NES.The Council has a legal responsibility to protect and encourage biodiversity and our annual surveys tell us that people want to see more wildlife in our parks.  

Elsewhere, the Parks Team have had to make significant financial savings to work within the Council's budget. This has left us with fewer staff to maintain our green spaces. In order to meet this challenge, we have had to make the difficult decision to reduce the frequency of grass cutting on verges on road sides and in housing estates. 

We want to be able to continue to provide areas of short grass in parks and playing fields to ensure that there are still plenty of spaces for ball games and picnics and we will continue to ensure that grass is kept short close to pavements and along sight lines on roads. But on many verges the Council will be reducing the frequency of grass cutting.

The table below shows the intended mowing frequency for each type of grassed area.

Cutting Regimes


Type of Area


Typical Mowing Frequency


Parks ( Such as Keynsham Memorial Park)


Every 2 weeks


Playing fields, open spaces and allotments


Every 4-6 weeks


Golf Courses


Every week


Wildflower Meadows


annually


Residential verges


 


Every 4-6 weeks


Residential verges (reduced cutting)


Two full cuts/year - See below*


Roadside verges outside of residential areas


annually

 

Some areas of verge will see a reduced frequency of cuts (two full cuts per year with the edges cut every 4-6 weeks) and these tend to focus on:

  • Areas which are adjacent to hedges, woodland or other ecological corridors. A reduced frequency of cutting will maximise the benefits to wildlife

  • Lawns that contain trees. Limiting a full cut to twice per year will increase the benefits to wildlife and reduce the time spent mowing around objects

  • Areas that already contain a higher number of wildflower species meaning they are important for biodiversity and regular cutting may prevent them from flowering and setting seed

  • Larger residential verges that have low amenity value (eg. are not used for children’s play)

  • Slopes and banks which have low amenity value and are more time-consuming to cut

In addition to helping to meet the Council’s budget constraints, changes to the maintenance of grass verges will also:

  • Benefit wildlife – spring flowers such as Cow Parsley will benefit pollinators such as bees and longer grass will be better for birds and small mammals such as hedgehogs and voles

  • Reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.

  • Reduce the Council’s carbon footprint by cutting CO2 emissions from mowing equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When will the grass in my area be cut?

A. When the new approach settles in we will publish maintenance rounds for all areas; until then please refer to the table above for mowing frequencies.

Q. The grass verge outside my house has not been cut for several weeks, has it been abandoned?

A. Grass verges which are owned by the Council will still be given a full cut at least once/year to prevent scrub from developing. We will also continue to cut strips of grass along pavements and along sight lines on roads every 4-6 weeks.  If the grass in the centre of a verge near you has not been cut for more than six weeks, it is likely that it will only be cut in full twice/year.

Q. Can I cut the verges outside my house myself?

A. The Parks Team are now working with friends groups in some areas that are helping  to supplement the Council’s maintenance of their local green spaces. We’re very keen to support these initiatives but need to make sure that our Friends groups are working safely and are suitably insured when working on Council-owned land. If you do want to get together with friends or neighbours to help maintain an area of green space near you then we’d love to hear from you, but unfortunately we can’t give permission for the public to work on Council land without the proper agreements in place.


Q. Can I plant bulbs in the verges outside my house?

A. Please get in touch with us if you want to help improve the verges in your area. Where possible we will be planting more bulbs in grass verges in the coming years and so we may be able to help, but we need to make sure that any changes don’t affect our maintenance and we wouldn’t  want to cut down bulbs or wildflowers that have been planted by hard-working members of the public. Best to get in touch if you have a planting idea in mind.

Q. What to do about people who litter or don’t pick up after their dogs?

A. To report flytipping, a litter problem or dog fouling, please report it at the Council’s report it webpage: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/reportit/

Q. Why are some of the verges outside my house not being cut as regularly as other verges in the area?

A. Verges have been individually assessed for their features and assigned to a suitable cutting regime, as a result there may be more than one regime employed within a small area. See ‘Cutting Regimes’ for more details on how we determine this.

Q. There is a grass verge near me that the Council has maintained in the past but is no longer cutting, why has the Council stopped?

A. As part of its grounds maintenance review, the Council is identifying land which it does not own and which has never been adopted. To help meet its responsibility to maintain its own open spaces to a good standard and to respond to challenging financial pressures, Bath and North East Somerset Council will stop maintaining – for free- land which it does not own.  Where the landowner is known, the Council have approached them to explain that it will no longer be maintaining the space for free, and have suggested alternative maintenance arrangements; but in many cases the identity of the landowner is not known, and the title is unregistered.

Q. There is a grass verge near me that the Council has maintained in the past but is no longer cutting, why has the Council stopped?

A.The Council is faced with unprecedented pressure on its finances. In order to make ends meet and ensure vital public services are delivered, the Council has been through a grounds maintenance programme review. The starting point for this review was to identify all land that the Council did not own, land that had not been dedicated to it and land that has not been adopted as land maintainable at the public expense. In situations where the Council did not own or have any responsibility towards grounds maintenance the hard decisions had to be taken to stop maintaining that land at the public expense and protect vital public services such as child protection, adult social care and education.

Q. What did the Council do before it stopped cutting the grass near me?

A.The Council undertook searches at the Land Registry and searched its property management system to see if the Council was the landowner and/or whether there was an agreement dedicating the land to the Council or evidence that the Council had adopted the land as maintainable at the public expense. Where the Council was the owner or under a duty to maintain the grounds, it continues to cut the grass; although in many cases the grass may no longer be cut as frequently as it has in the past.

Q. Did the Council speak to the landowner?

A. Where a landowner was identified, and the land was not maintainable at the public expense, grounds maintenance by the Council has stopped. The decision to stop grounds maintenance in these circumstances, however, was not taken in isolation but rather the landowner was contacted to establish whether alternative grounds maintenance arrangements could be agreed before any grounds maintenance ceased.

Q. What did the Council do if it couldn’t identify the landowner?

A. Where landownership or responsibility to maintain land at the public expense could not be established, a decision had to be taken whether to stop the grounds maintenance programme. The Council is looking to stop maintaining these spaces (to ensure that it can meet commitments relating to Council owned land) whilst seeking a solution for their long term management but will - where resources permit – conduct some maintenance in the first year. However, there is no duty placed on the Council to continue to do so.

Q. What can I do as a resident?

A. Where the Council has stopped grounds maintenance and you have the name of the original developer on your Title Deeds or have traced the developer through a Companies House website search you may wish to contact the landowner and see if they will maintain the grounds.

Q. Can I maintain or purchase land that is not owned by the Council?

The Council cannot provide advice and you should seek your own professional advice in the circumstances.


 

 


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