Council contractors pledge to fix muddy mess

Britten Grove, Old Farm Park
Britten Grove, Old Farm Park

Council contractors who made grass verges a muddy mess will return to fix the damage.

Last week Old Farm Park resident Mark Gilliland accused the council of making a mess of the environment after a Serco tractor was used to trim the hedgerows in Britten Grove.

Today, the council says Serco employees will repair the damage without charge - and will even fix other verges in the area caused by private cars and other vehicles.

A council spokesman said: “In this case, the operative recognised that damage was occurring and moved to an adjacent work site to minimise time lost.

“The issue was inspected by the contractor who has arranged for repairs to be carried out in the next week as part of their contractual obligations.

“Whilst they are in the area, Serco will be repairing other verges, without charge, that have been damaged by private cars and other vehicles.”

It follows Mr Gilliland’s accusations that the council was wasting taxpayers’ money by employing contractors who created “eyesores”.

He said: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’ve lived here 17 years and in the past 24 months standards of grass cutting and maintenance have fallen to unacceptable levels.

“We now have to live with this eyesore for months.”

Mr Gilliland called the council to complain but was told his call would be logged and dealt with by a supervisor. Unhappy with the response he decided to confront the contractor himself who he claims told him not to worry and that ‘ the grass would grow back’.

He said: “Frankly, I would like to know when the council appointed Serco to run landscaping and ask what money back damages are due when it uses council taxpayers’ money to cause a mess and inconvenience to residents.

“To me it’s another example of public money being wasted on outsourcing deals that promise the earth and deliver nothing. What’s wrong with the council employing and, importantly, managing its own staff?

“It strikes me that the whole thing was run a whole lot better before they did a deal with Serco.”

A council spokesman today said: “Our contractor, as we did when we provided the service directly, undertakes the majority of pruning work between November and March, whilst the majority of shrubs and hedges are dormant and we do not disturb nesting birds.

“This is established good horticultural practice and locally you can see the Parks Trust doing the same. The clay soils in Milton Keynes do retain water and we are aware that damage may occur to grass surfaces while maintenance work is undertaken.

“This is provided for in the contract specification and our contractor will undertake remedial repairs to any significant damage to verges and other grass areas caused during pruning operations at their cost. In the majority of cases, areas will recover as the grass begins growing in the spring.”