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Grass cutting causes controversy at Stamford Town Council meeting

Grass cutting is often a cause of controversy, usually because residents think the council doesn’t do it enough.

But this week the debate was between councillors themselves, who were split over whether clippings should be collected or left as mulch.

Many of Stamford’s grass verges are being stripped of the grass and wildflower seeds planted, making them future havens for insects and birds. This work is being carried out by a group of volunteers called Team Stamford.

Members of Team Stamford
Members of Team Stamford

But this type of planting benefits from clippings being collected after the wildflowers are cut back. The cheaper option, to leave clippings as mulch are better suited to standard grass verges.

It was this, second option, which Stamford Town Council’s finance committee had selected - and was brought into question at a meeting of the full council on Tuesday.

Coun Amanda Wheeler (Lib Dem) said she was sorry they didn’t choose to ‘cut and collect’, adding that she was particularly disappointed that several of the councillors had been at a town council Climate Action group meeting at which Phil Sterling, from Butterfly Conservation, spoke about the wildflower verges.

Mr Sterling had spoken of the benefits of ‘cut and collect’ mowing, and how wildflowers should be cut less frequently than grass, saving on costs.

“Last month, Stamford was named the best place to live in the Midlands by The Sunday Times,” said Coun Wheeler.

“But the town named the best place to live in the whole of the UK was Stroud in Gloucestershire. So, I wondered, what does Stroud – a thriving market town with just under 15,000 residents – offer its population that Stamford doesn’t?

“Well blow me if I didn’t find the answer right there on Stroud Town Council’s own website - wildflowers.”

Coun Julie Clarke (Ind) reminded councillors they had pledged support to the Team Stamford project.

Others defended choosing ‘cut and mulch’ because it costs less per cut, and they want to measure the success of the wildflower project.

Chairman of the finance committee, Susan Sandall (Con) said: “We are the finance committee. Just because we support one issue it doesn’t mean we have to go with it fully.

“£13,000 a year on cutting the grass and taking it away when we haven’t even decided to have wild flowers. Surely if we were going to put them in we would have done it by now?”

Coun John Dawson added that in his years on the council he has been ‘inundated’ with complaints about the state of the grass so believes they should “see how successful the wild flowers are, and the complaint level”.

Chairing the meeting, deputy mayor Gloria Johnson (Con) halted the conversation because there had been “a lot of talk”.

A proposal was put forward by Coun Wheeler to move to ‘cut and collect’.The majority of councillors voted against it.

l What do you think? Email your views to: smeditor@stamfordmercury.co.uk

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