Mid-Ulster Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has expressed concerns that road user’s safety is being put at risk with the current approach to cutting of the roadside verges over the summer months.
Mr Molloy said, “Over recent weeks the warm temperatures and now heavy rain has lead to a significant growth of grass and weeds along our roads, in particular the more rural roads.
“The current policies on grass cutting means that many areas will get cut once a year and this will take a considerable period of time to complete.
“The result is that many of our rural roads wil not be cut until late July. That is simply too long. As I travel around the constituency it is clear that already the grass and weeds are at a height that requires urgent action to reduce the risk of accidents. If these are left another few weeks then lives are being put at risk.”
Mr Molloy said a new approach was needed to resolve this annual problem.
DUP MLA Keith Buchanan expressed disappointment that progress has been “very slow” in the commencement of grass cutting, leaving junctions dangerous.
“DFI Roads needs to be more prepared and cut this grass earlier in the season,” he said. He emphasized the need for grass on rural roads to be maintained as overgrown verges at junctions pose a safety hazard for all road users. All road verges, roundabouts and other junctions should not be left to grow wild therefore affecting motorists’ sight-lines.
SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said his office has received a number of complaints about the lack of grass cutting and how it is obstrcting views at busy and dangerous road junctions.
“I have contacted the local Roads Section Office at infrastructure NI and have queried if the cutting is behind schedule this year as a number of people have expressed that concern to me,” he said.
Ulster Unionist Councillor Trevor Wilson said he believed that grass cutting in the Mid Ulster Area “is a disgrace.”
He said: “I am constantly receiving complaints about the lack of cutting especially at road junctions and roundabouts. While I appreciate that money is tight within Road Service I feel that more could be done to address the grass cutting issue.
“Councils’ are already carrying out work within towns and getting a paltry sum for it. The rate payers of Mid Ulster deserve better and I hope that a meeting already arranged with Transport NI to look at this issue will see the grass cutting issue properly addressed.”
SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson said: “The non cutting of hedges and verges is a big deal as the growing season is well and truly upon us. This is particularly bad in rural areas. The safety at road junctions is the responsibility of DfI roads and we continue to lobby, harass,cajole etc. To no avail. It’s all down to budget which they say they don’t have full allocation of due to the lack of an executive on the Hill. Same issues with trying to get potholes fixed after the winter many of which still exist. As elected reps we have great difficulty and frustration in getting anything done.
Hedges are the responsibility of landowners and road service have a mandate to ensure hedge owners comply with their responsibilities. No hedge cutting is allowed in the bird nesting season from April to October.
Council are responsible for maintaining their own lands as are NIHE and this continues to be done regularly. Council used to do some grass cutting for DfI and were paid for it (at cost) but when the belts were tightened that went as well.
Councillor Darryn Causby said “The DUP position on grass cutting in our Borough is very clear. We will fight to ensure that the Council grass cutting schedule is not reduced in any way as we previously have done in the former Craigavon Council. We understand that Council have historically cut some portions of land not in their control on behalf of Transport NI and were previously paid for this work, whilst there is now no payment Council are still carrying this service.
Transport NI have significantly reduced their grass cutting service to a level that we think is unacceptable and in some cases unsafe. If Council were to cut the areas TNI are not cutting the rate payer will essentially end up paying twice for the same service and we deem that unacceptable. We appeal to TNI to reconsider their policy in relation to grass cutting and work to ensure that their land and road verges are kept to an acceptable standard.
We will continue to lobby on behalf of the people in our Borough for better services and ensure that public sector agencies are fulfilling their obligations to our residents” Ends