A reduced grass cutting programme is in place across Wirral after proposals were agreed to reduce the maintenance budget – with a positive knock-on effect of being able to encourage wildflowers and attract bees and butterflies.
The new programme means that some green spaces will be maintained less often, or not at all, until April 2022. In all general areas of parks and public open spaces, grass cutting will be reduced from 13 to 10 cuts per year.
A positive to come out of the reduction in maintenance, is that the areas that aren’t maintained will provide opportunities for rewilding and tree planting, with the council working towards planting a further 200,000 trees by 2030 as part of the Wirral Tree Strategy.
Where it’s suitable for wildflowers to grow naturally these areas will be left alone. Wildflowers provide food and shelter for valuable pollinator insects whose numbers are falling, as well as an attractive visual space. They can also help with air pollution.
You can see which sites will no longer be maintained by visiting www.wirral.gov.uk/grasscutting. This decision was made as part of the council’s budget setting process in March 2021, where savings of £350k had to be made.
Places where it would be inappropriate for grass to be allowed to grow will be maintained as normal. This includes, sports pitches, bowling greens, play areas and ornamental grass. Any roadside grass verges, that if left to grow would impact visibility and cause safety concerns, will be maintained by cutting a corridor edge along sightlines.
Site inspections will still be carried out every year to ensure sites are safe and comply with statutory duties.
For areas where maintenance will no longer be carried out, residents and ward councillors can approach the council to take over the land for a suitable community activity. This would be through a long-term lease, either at no or very little cost. Alternatively, communities can ask for the area to be swapped for another of a similar size within the same ward so that maintenance can continue.
This could help residents to improve the quality of community life with tree planting schemes, allotment plots, wildflower meadows or simply maintained locally for the community to enjoy.
No Mow May
Throughout the month of May, the council will take part in the No Mow May campaign, which is about stopping mowing in general grass areas in parks to help our bees, butterflies and wildlife. The grass areas will be left from the end of April until the middle of June, following Plantlife’s national campaign.
Pathways will be cut through the large grass areas to provide walking routes, and borders will be cut surrounding existing pathways.
Sport pitches, bowling greens, churchyards, cemeteries, play areas, outdoor gyms and formal areas (for example, Hamilton Square, Birkenhead) are not affected and will be maintained as normal.
Main Image shows Lowfield Avenue, Eastham.