Alliance Belfast Councillor Michael Long is to propose a motion which he hopes will deliver a way forward in tackling the issue of verge maintenance and grass cutting across the city.
In 2014, the UUP Minister at the Department for Regional Development axed the grass cutting budget, with the result that cuts went from five per year to none. Since then the number of cuts has increased to twice a year but many residents still complain about the poor state of the verges.
Councillor Long said his motion, which will be brought at Monday’s Council meeting, was due to maintaining grass verges being one of the most frequent complaints he receives.
“Whether it is because of road safety concerns or frustration at overgrown hedges, ratepayers want this problem resolved once and for all. I am therefore bringing forward a motion to look at how we promote civic pride and road safety but also help to protect the environment.
“Firstly, we want to have an audit of all sites and determine whether they need regular cutting, have low maintenance planting, are potentially open for wildflower planting or are best left untouched to help maintain wildlife such as bees.
“Once we have this baseline, we would then be able to work out the overall costs. The responsibility is that of the Department for Infrastructure, but it is clear they may not be able to cover all the costs. Introducing sponsorship of some sites as well as using developer contributions could plug the funding gaps.
“Finally, we would set up a forum with all relevant agencies including ourselves and the Department but also other statutory and environmental groups who can bring their expertise to the table.
“For almost five years, local residents have been unhappy with the consequences of the UUP decision and it is time to provide a sustainable solution by working together with all relevant parties. Our motion will hopefully help this happen.”