ON the VERGE from latest St.Margaret's and Westgate Division Focus
ON THE VERGE
Q. when is a cut not a cut? A. When it is a Highways' budget saving.
-Urban streets provide access for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles to get around Town.
-They are also vital for dealing with urban drainage / flood water and provide routes for public utilities.
-They can also provide green space for our well-being and an opportunity to improve biodiversity and air quality.
-The street environment needs to be managed and cared for.
-Suffolk County Council's (SCC's) policy treats Ipswich's roads as if they are country lanes.
-SCC used to commission Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) to cut verges and clear weeds from pavements 3 times a year. They have reduced this to once a year.
-SCC has stopped trimming grass that spreads from verges over the pavement ("skirting").
-Although not its responsibility IBC had provided 6 additional cuts a year but this was recently reduced to 5 to save money.
-With alternate wet and hot spells and no cuts this May, our verges and green spaces became rapidly overgrown with grass and weeds. In many places residents took their own action, cutting the grass outside their homes and dealing with pavement weeds.
-This action improved street appearance but only where residents were able and willing to do this.
-If the Tories running SCC and Labour, in charge at IBC, are no longer prepared to care for our streets as residents expect, they should not be surprised if street-proud people do it themselves.
After pressure from Councillors and residents, verges were finally cut in June, but the long grass stems were not collected and have blocked drains in many places and littered pavements and cycle lanes.
Maybe the time has come for our Councils to work with residents to manage our streets' appearance and biodiversity. This might include planting and maintaining wild-flower areas where appropriate.
Cllr. Tim Lockington asked about this at IBC's Full Council meeting in July. The answer was that this was not a good idea as only some residents would or could get involved.
The alternative is for our Councils to fund street services properly. Both are strapped for cash. Even in the absence of a pandemic, the cost of supporting frail and vulnerable people, and people and families in crisis will always take precedence. Public
Authorities must be more open and honest about what can be afforded rather than quietly cutting services hoping that no-one will notice.
Caring for our local environment and urban nature is an important part of our response to the Climate Emergency. We need new thinking and a new mind-set. This may mean more Community partnership to do things differently or more taxes to fund things properly or, ………. Let us know what you think : fill in the survey "ON THE VERGE"