Liverpool Council to cut grass maintenance in half

Liverpool Council is to further reduce grass cutting in public green spaces but hopes to clamp down on tackling unsightly weeds.

In a bid to improve conditions and increase biodiversity in the city’s parks, open spaces and highway verges, the local authority is to adopt new measures to maintain its greenery. After a pilot scheme last year, a report to the city’s neighbourhoods committee has confirmed the council will further reduce grass cutting in 2024.

However, responding to the “exponential increase” in weed growth, officials are ditching the existing spray policy to tackle unwelcome vegetation, deeming it “no longer adequate”.

Documents to go before the committee next week set out how given legal duties were placed upon the council under the Environment Act 2021, areas are to be prioritised to connect “to each other and to existing wildlife habitats and corridors where possible.” As a result, this means grass cutting at parks, open spaces and reservations will be reduced by half.

Picture frame cuts – where only the outer edges of a grassed area are cut on a 28-day cycle with the central area allowed to grow to its natural limit – will continue on identified grass or meadow areas in less formal parts of parks. Mowing will be reduced, rather than a blanket ban during May, with suitable verges and central reservations to be managed during the growing season.

Changes are also to be implemented following the “key challenge” of the sharp rise in weed growth in highways, pavements and alleyways last year. The report said, “Changes to our climate have resulted in milder, wetter weather which extends the growing season for all types of vegetation. 

“It is clear the previous weed control programme based around two city-wide sprays per year typically taking 12 weeks to complete on each occasion is no longer adequate to control weed growth throughout the year.”

To inform the strategy, officers have met with other local authorities to share best practices. As a result, the council will bring forward its start date for weed spraying by four weeks and double the numbers of sprays from two to four.

Spraying began this week, followed by two weeks of maintenance to scuff out dead weeds. The spray will be repeated over four weeks for four cycles and be delivered with newly recruited staff and vehicles including sweepers with wire brushes.

Despite the proposed changes, the scheme was criticised by opposition members. Cllr Rebecca Turner, Liberal Democrat Waterfront South ward member, said, “Labour’s record thus far on grass cutting and weed killer has been a real disaster. You go round some parts of the city and you find weeds growing taller than you – this isn’t a new problem but the consequence of 14 years of Labour letting our city down by failing to get the basics right. 

“My ward is at the heart of our visitor economy, speaking to residents, businesses, and visitors, they all say the weeds and street cleansing say a lot about the area. I reported a small area of weeds at the beginning of September but it only cleared them away in February, I spent months chasing only to be continually told it had been cleared when it hadn’t.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the new approach might yield better results, but it’s disappointing that Liverpool isn’t leading the way it should as one of the UK’s core cities, but we’re as ever stuck playing catch up and copying others.”

Image: Luis Negron

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