UPDATE: Residents in Skegness welcome 'new deal' on grass cutting

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Residents have welcomed a new deal on getting the grass cut more regularly in Skegness.

In a 45-minute debate at a special meeting of Skegness Town Council, councillors came together under the leadership of its new Mayor, Coun Adrian Findley in a vote to resume responsibility of the full task, which stretches 500,000 metres of green space.

Last year 12 ‘ornamental’ cuts were made across the area but this was slashed by half in the Budget cuts with responsibility for cutting – which amounted to three ‘safety’ cuts – handed back to Lincolnshire County Council.

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The action, voted through by Skegness Urban District Society (SUDS) councillors to help save ratepayers’ money and which resulted in the loss of a job, grew a rift between parties – with some Conservative councillors claiming they were ashamed to be associated with a decision that left the town looking untidy.

Steve Hinsley (third right) and the residents who have been  cutting the grass themselves pictured with Coun Steve O'Dare (second right), who seconded the motion.Steve Hinsley (third right) and the residents who have been  cutting the grass themselves pictured with Coun Steve O'Dare (second right), who seconded the motion.
Steve Hinsley (third right) and the residents who have been cutting the grass themselves pictured with Coun Steve O'Dare (second right), who seconded the motion.

Members of the public, including a group of 80-year-olds who had been cutting their verges themselves because it had grown so long, waited eagerly through an agenda of admin items until Conservative Councillor Carl Macey presented the motion.

He explained he been able to negotiate a new contract with Lincolnshire County Council Highways Department.

“The value of the contract will be 0.058 pence per m2 which will equate to circa £24,000 per annum,” he said.

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“This figure is more than double the value of the previous agreement (£11,000) and will alleviate any negative financial impact upon the council and our council taxpayers.

“The offer is for the council to commence the grass cutting this year as soon as possible.

"Given the amount of disappointment that has been expressed by many our residents regarding the unkempt state of the verges I would urge council to look upon this motion favourably.”

Town Clerk Steve Larner explained councillors could vote for a change as six months had passed since the Budget was agreed.

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Mr Larner warned that as the grass was longer than normal before cuts it would take time for the town to look as good as it did last year. He also said a member of staff would have to be re-instated to take on the extra work, explaining staff’s time had been focussing on town council sites. As the public had commented favourably on how these areas – including Tower Gardens – looked, he said he would not like these to deteriorate, especially as future funding bids depended on it.

After the debate, the council vote to reinstate grass cutting brought cries of relief from the gallery.

Steve Hinsley, who is one of the residents from Precinct Cresent cutting their own grass, said after the meeting he was leaving with a ‘smile on his face’.

He said: “Councillors have agreed to the proposal and hopefully the grass cutting can soon resume.

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"There are people cutting the grass all over Skegness and Winthorpe and it put a lot of strain on us – and the council accepted that.

"I’m pleased the council have listened to what we said. I think that is very very important.

"At the end of the day it was a mistake taking the cutting away, but it’s been sorted now.

"I know it’s something they can’t start tomorrow because they have to sort staffing but hopefully it’s good news.”

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We also caught up with Coun Macey after the meeting, who said he was pleased how the motion was received.

He said: “Now is the time to move forward. We’ll get the verges looking good again, which is what the residents wanted in the first place.

"So I welcome the council has accepted that decision – it’s only going to benefit all of us.”

SUDS leader Coun Danny Brookes said: “All along we’ve always wanted the grass cut – but we wanted Skegness to be treated fairly.

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"We didn’t think £11,000 was a fair deal for the resdents of Skegness and that’s why we wanted more.

"They have come back with £24,000 and we now feel that is a fair deal for Skegness.”

  • See the Skegness Standard Facebook page for the full LIVE debate.

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