It really is a jungle out there ... Luton council leader apologises over grass cutting

New Bedford Road grass verge
New Bedford Road grass verge

Sorry … that’s the message from Luton Borough Council leader Hazel Simmons on the overgrown state of the town’s grass verges and green spaces.

“Something had to be cut,” she admitted, referring to the annual budget.

But not, it seems, the grass banks and roadside greenery around Luton.

The Labour Lewsey councillor described it as “not acceptable”, as she held her hand up to the local authority’s shortcomings in mowing the grass.

“The grass cutting is grim,” she told the Luton News. “I apologise to the local community.

“The grass appears to be growing quickly this year. It’s causing us a dilemma, which we are working through. We are looking at this again.”

The local authority’s Parks team was instructed to make fewer grass cuts around the town this year to save money, according to councillor Simmons.

Residents who have their own lawns to cut will understand the situation this summer, she explained.

Councillor Simmons admitted she has had to trim her lawn more often than she would have expected.

“We’ve had to save £130m in recent years out of a relatively small budget of £160m,” she said.

“We’re one of the more seriously affected local authorities in terms of cutbacks.

“We can’t use money which is ring-fenced for certain projects, or divert specific grants from government.”

It boils down to which areas are then prioritised for spending, such as adults and children’s services, according to councillor Simmons.

“The grass cutting is not acceptable this year and we will be looking at it again.”

She excused the Parks team of any blame, saying: “We have award winning parks in the town. They do a tremendous job.

“Sometimes you make decisions that you think are the right ones. Sometimes the grass seems to grow quicker than you’d expect for no reason.

“We’re all having to do more grass cutting than we would most summers,” she added.

“But it’s not an excuse.  It’s not good enough for our community and we are going to review the situation for next year.”