Is East Sussex cutting corners?

Grass cuttings add nothing to the appearance of St Thomas the Martyr. Photos: Richard Comotto

Dismayed residents of Winchelsea are complaining about what they claim is the haphazard and careless manner in which the town’s prized grass verges are being cut by contractors employed by East Sussex County Council.

The focus of much of the dissatisfaction is the use of strimmers rather than mowers. Strimmers are faster, but the results tend to be very uneven, often leaving scalped patches, and strewing cuttings across the verge and on to the road. Given the reduced frequency of cutting, residents say that the quantity of cut grass left lying around is an unsightly, matted mess.

Winchelsea verge 2
Messy: strimming is quicker but not cleaner than mowing

After the latest foray by the contractors, residents are also asking why only parts of some verges have been cut. In one case, contractors started to cut a strip of grass at the back of a verge but stopped halfway. And the overgrown grass around the base of a nearby lamppost was left untouched. In addition, entire verges in some streets were not cut at all.

Start, stop: some verges left virtually untouched

Residents of Winchelsea are also unhappy about the state of the verges along the A259, which is the responsibility of the Highways Agency. They say that these are cut so infrequently that the footpath along Rectory Lane is often impassable, particularly to anyone in a wheelchair or with a pushchair.

In response to complaints, a county council spokesman, Karl Taylor, said that the local highway steward had inspected the verges – several weeks after the last cut – and thought the work to be satisfactory, if untidy. It was admitted that the problem was the policy of not collecting cuttings and the fact that grass grows a lot in the spring and summer!

Keith Glazier, a Conservative county councillor for Rye and Eastern Rother, did not comment. The county council did not explain why the cutting of some verges was incomplete nor why entire verges in other streets were left uncut. The Highways Agency did not respond to enquiries.

Richard Comotto is a member of Winchelsea Heritage