‘We must strike a balance with allowing grass verges to grow wild’ - council

July 26 2019
‘We must strike a balance with allowing grass verges to grow wild’ - council

It is a topic that divides opinion – grass verges being allowed to grow wild.

Some say they are essential for wildlife and biodiversity, while others say they are unsightly and look a mess.

Bristol City Council came under fire last month when it mowed a stretch of wild grassland along St Luke’s Road in Totterdown.

But the local authority defended its actions, saying that it must “strike a balance” between allowing grass verges to grow for ecological purposes and the public’s reaction to uncut green spaces.

The council says that it also needs to consider “associated health and safety issues” of wild verges.

Just days before the area was mowed, Totterdown Residents Environmental and Social Action group (TRESA) tweeted an image of the wildflowers, suggesting that it would be good to have nature information boards about the wild space.

Now all that remains is a small patch of wildflowers at the south end of the road.

But according to ward councillor for Windmill Hill, Jon Wellington, many residents see wild verges and growth as the council neglecting the area.

Cllr Wellington said: “My view is that they should be left to grow until late summer, as this encourages biodiversity. It also saves the council money.

“However, I know that many local residents do not like this wild look because people tell me.

“The verge was kept trimmed for years and some people see the level of growth as the council neglecting the area.

“I think TRESA’s idea that some kind of sign to indicate that the growth is intentional might be useful.”

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “We’re fully behind the campaign to introduce wildflower areas that encourage urban pollinators and have cultivated a number of wildflower meadows across the city, sown specifically for colour and pollinators. One such area exists very near to the site being discussed. We also have a number of areas sown and cultivated for a specific biodiversity. In these designated areas we cut around the wildflower spaces.

“We also have large swathes of grassy areas to manage and must strike a balance between allowing grass to grow long for ecological reasons, the associated health and safety issues this presents and public reaction to uncut spaces.

“The St Luke’s Road area was not planted, it’s a steep grass verge that needs maintaining, and we’re not aware of any local involvement with this particular site but we have got great support from locals for another area in the nearby Victoria Park.”