Wednesday June 20 2018

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In Full . . .

Blame it on the weather!

Posted on June 30 2017 at 11:27:46

Grass cuttings

Sarah Rees reports from the Oakalls and Parklands.

Residents complaining about overgrown areas across The Oakalls have been told the lack of grass cuts can be blamed on staff sickness . . . and the weather.

The Village contacted Bromsgrove District Council to find out why the grass had been allowed to grow to an almost unmanageable state and asked what the official cutting programme was in this area.

It turns out grass cutting is handled by “Place Teams” across the district, with Team Four, employing ten staff, covering the area that includes The Oakalls.

As well as being responsible for grass-cutting and hedge-trimming, these teams also carry out all the litter-picking, litter and dog bin emptying, bulky household collections, and flytipping clearance across the district.

Grass-cutting on The Oakalls is not a statutory duty of the council – it is only legally bound to perform this service to maintain visibility on public highways, for safety reasons.

The cutting of grass on the estate is a discretionary task which the council chooses to undertake, and continues to do despite the Conservative Government axing the £3 million Revenue Support Grant to Bromsgrove for the current year, leaving the council seriously short of cash.

While there is no set guide as to how often the grass on the estate is cut, the council works towards between five and seven cuts a year.

The grassy areas on The Oakalls were cut at the beginning of May, which was followed by a period of warm, wet weather that caused all vegetation to grow far more quickly than is usual at this time of year.

By the start of June a combination of perfect growing conditions and Place Team staff shortages, because more than half their trained mower staff were off sick, had led to a grassy problem across the district.

Matt Austin, Place Team Leader at Bromsgrove’s environmental services department, told The Village he had tried to hire private contractors to help increase staffing.

But, at the time of going to press those third-party contractors he had contacted had no available capacity because they were already stretched handling their own customers.

Mr Austin said: “We are not where we would like to be with grass cutting on The Oakalls.

“Due to pressure from some residents and a recognised need to catch up with our grass-cutting programme we started to cut the grass on The Oakalls in week commencing June 5, but ideally we would not have done so while the ground was so wet from recent heavy rainfall.

“This did cause clippings to clump (pictured), which does not look good.”

He continued: “I am aware the standard of grass maintenance on the estate is not as high as we would like it to be at the moment and we understand that some residents feel passionate about this.

“However, I would like to reassure residents that we understand and share your frustrations.

“Our Place Teams take immense pride in their work and we remain committed to providing the very best possible service we can and hope to be achieving a high standard of service again soon.” 

Victorian kids


Children at Finstall First School stepped back in time when “Annie the Housemaid” visited as part of a Victorian activity day.

Pupils made comparisons between the lives of children today and those living over 150 years ago. They also learned the differences between rich and poor children in Victorian Britain.

Faye Little, dressed as Annie the Housemaid, talked about the types of job that a scullery maid and boot boy would carry out in a large Victorian household.

Pupils were able to handle a range of artefacts, including washing clothes with a wash dolly, shaping butter with butter pats, scrubbing pots and pans with rags and sand, and beating a rug. 

Pupils also experienced Victorian-style lessons, sitting in rows with lots of chanting and repetition.

Eight-year-old Mia said: “I liked making the butter balls and beating the carpet. I learnt what housemaids did and had a really good day.” 

Year 3 pupil Hector added: “I enjoyed beating the carpet to get the dust off it. It made a big bang!”

Matt Mason, deputy head teacher at Finstall School, said: “Learning isn’t just about sitting at a desk in a classroom. Children really enjoy an opportunity to dress up and take part in a range of activities relating to a topic.

“They had a fabulous day trying out all the different chores and taking part in Victorian lessons but they were glad to return to 2017!” 

Back row: Louise Davis, ‘Annie the Housemaid’ and Helen Desmond. Front row: Poppy, Daniel, Isla, Callum, Mae, Mia, Daniel and Ben.

Please contact me with your views and concerns about any aspect of life on the estate. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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