Community-minded householders who trim grass verges outside their homes could face a fine of £1,000 – for damaging a newt.
They could also incur the wrath of Milton Keynes Council , which this week urged people all over the city to stop mowing land which does not belong to them.
Councillor John Bint, the Tory cabinet boss for roads, said: “I appreciate they are showing community spirit but unfortunately we cannot sanction any member of the public mowing any grassland next to a highway.”
The ban is designed to protect the council, as well as residents, from liability in the event of claims for accidents.
“The person with the mower could slip and fall in front of a car.
“They could step off the kerb and cause an accident. We could be held liable,” said Mr Bint.
Another surprisingly significant reason for the ‘no mow’ policy is,the risk of damage to a tiny ambhibian – the great crested newt.
Mr Bint said: The great crested newt is highly protected and classed as an endangered species all over Europe.
“But here in MK, because of the way the city is designed, we have a large amount of them.”
“The newts live in puddles of mud on verges. If anybody accidentally killed one with a mower they could be fined £1,000 under European law.”
The threat to newts was a major reason in the council’’s recent decision to ban willing Milton Keynes Village reisdents from maintaing their communal Dell Pond. Volunteer villagers formed their own crew, aptly called Dell Boys, to keep the area spick and span for the past 15 years,
“We were appalled when the council told us to stop because it was against health and safety regulations,” said resident Dr Bob Ranger.
“Milton Keynes will look the worse for these dictatorial, unilateral measures from the council... all those valiant people who strive to make their communties tidy must now desist because the council thinks it can do better,”
Dr Ranger estimates there are hundreds of good citizens who run their mowers over verges.
Mr Bint agrees and admits the mowing ban will be almost impossible to police.”
“It would cost far too much money and, compared to our other obligations, it cannot be classed as a priority.
“We are relying uopon public understanding.”