Council to consider proposal to scrap grass-cutting service for elderly people

Free grass-cutting for the elderly and disabled is to be scrapped next year under cost-cutting plans to go before councillors on Thursday.

Rising demand has meant more people wanting their gardens cut than can be afforded from the £101,000-a-year budget. With no extra money available the service is only to be extended this summer to those who asked first.

For next year the housing service advocates ending the service altogether rather than raising the extra money needed by putting up council house rents and removing £17,000 from other council services.

The long-running service is intended only as a last resort for those who have no family or friends nearby to cut the grass for them. But their number is increasing steadily as the population ages. As well as the council house tenants who qualify for free cuts more than 300 private householders and tenants have asked for theirs to be done for nothing this year.

Another option to avoid scrapping the service would be to introduce a charge to cover the cost but this is not felt to be worthwhile due to the cost of collecting the money.

One of the anomalies of the scheme is that council house tenants effectively pay for the service twice, through their rents and their council tax whereas private home owners, who often have much larger gardens, pay only indirectly through their council tax.

The proposal to end the service is to be debated by councillors on the services committee.


Add Your Comment
  • Mrs C. Donald

    • June 16th, 2010 12:45

    If the grass-cutting service has to be stopped for senior citizen council tenants at Park Wynd which is open plan area, then garden fencing would need to be considered by the Council. Other tenants have suitable fencing and gates for a number of years but the sheltered houses from No.12 to 20 were not privileged with the same at Park Wynd, Sandwick
    It is understandable regarding cut-backs but surprised that private housing don’t have to pay for their own service in Shetland.
    Some tenants do not have family near hand or able to cope so the Council would have to look at the outlying sheltered housing in Cunningsburgh and Sandwick and re-plan ground to keep up good standard.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • June 16th, 2010 12:55

    Why dont the councillors take a cut in there HUGE wages, There expences are out rages, Florence Grains could cut her expences by taken the bus from the west side to Lerwick and back, They could cease these jonts to mainland UK, I THINK THE CUT BACKS SHOULD START AT THE SOURCE, From the top, Chief ex, convenor, and so on, This would save a few bob.

  • L Farmer

    • June 17th, 2010 12:08

    This work could be undertaken by volunteers.

    Volunteering will become an essential part of public service as spending cuts are made.

  • Mrs Christine Donald

    • June 17th, 2010 14:16

    Suggestion by L. Farmer sounds fine in theory but volunteering is not consistent and is what the Council expects while the council tax is not reduced in line with the idea either.
    Park Wynd sheltered housing in Sandwick (nos.12 to 20) have an expanse of open-plan grassland that at present is serviced by larger equipment other than just simple lawnmowers also not weather friendly as unlike surrounding tenants, there is no suitable fencing in place.

  • Rosa Steppanova

    • June 21st, 2010 12:36

    Why not do what other local authorities do and allow large grassed areas to turn into wild flower meadows? They only need a couple of cuts a year. This could also be adapted to individual gardens by only mowing paths through the grass for access to washing lines etc. With this approach the service could still be delivered to those who need it, and easily remain within budget. We need creative and imaginative solutions to some of our problems, rather than the usual all or nothing formulas.

  • keith martin

    • June 27th, 2010 12:09

    We do that here in Preston. It looks quite nice, but we don’t have the wind and the rain you can get there. The grasses, unless sheltered would be flattened, matted and would decompose.
    There will be plenty of folk who could volunteer. But that too would cost. But that does look the best way forward.
    The expenses thing is true as well, though cutting pay might not. Even with the pay now, you don’t seem to be attracting the right candidates..

  • Rosa Steppanova

    • July 2nd, 2010 10:49

    If Keith Martin’s predictions that “grasses, unless sheltered would be flattened, matted and would decompose” were true, Shetland would have been seriously de-populated centuries ago. Hay was the major crop to bring the crofters’ livestock through the winter, thus ensuring the survival of the crofters themselves. Grasses, thanks to their structure, are amongst the most wind-resistant plants in the world. Traditional Shetland hay meadows stand up to the weather and are cut and cured in late July/early August – no matting – no decomposing, just sweet, nourishing hay.


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