Midlands council ups spend on trees and verges for "tidier" borough

A cabinet meeting of Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council last week (17 July) agreed to increase maintenance of the borough's trees and road verges, saying it was responding public concerns.

Image: chiron3636 (CC BY 2.0)
Image: chiron3636 (CC BY 2.0)

Approving a commissioned report on the impacts and benefits from "redesign of grass cutting, arboricultural and weed control operations", it agreed additional one-off funding of £160,000 for these over the 2020/21 financial year.

This will go on increasing the provision of arboricultural work from two operational gangs to three, "to increase planned maintenance and reactive responses to tree problems across the borough, according to the approved report.

It said:

An additional resource will be deployed to undertake semi-skilled tasks, such as the removal of epicormic growth or low branches. This will release the qualified arborists to carry out the specialist work required to maintain the Authority’s tree stock to safe standards. This will require two additional Environmental Operatives at a cost of circa £56K for the 2020/21 financial year.

Grass cutting on highway verges and some green spaces across the borough will be increased to once every three weeks, including on areas which were previously mowed only once a year.

Weed spraying across the borough will also be increased from once a year to three times a year.

Cabinet approved further one-off funding of £21,000 for the current financial year, "to re-design and optimise grass cutting routes and to implement an increased grass cutting regime".

Council leader Mike Bird told the Birmingham Mail: "One of my concerns has been over many years that the safety of our trees is something we have discounted.

"We have to look at the danger of these trees as they get bigger and bigger. When you are pulling out of some of the roads, it is a positive highways danger."

He added: "We also have to look at this from a health point of view and that is the increase in the pigeon population that we have got in Walsall. I've seen pictures where people weren't able to drive out because of the amount of mess on the windscreen."

Councillor Oliver Butler, portfolio holder for clean and green, said of the verge maintenance plans: "It shows we care and have pride in our town. We are listening and responding to our residents' concerns keeping their areas clean and tidy."

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