Council at cutting edge as verge works start

From left, Coun Glen Sanderson, Morpeth Stobhill county councillor John Beynon and Stephen Wardle, Neighbourhood Services area manager.
From left, Coun Glen Sanderson, Morpeth Stobhill county councillor John Beynon and Stephen Wardle, Neighbourhood Services area manager.

This year’s programme of verge cutting is now under way as the county gears up for the main tourist season.

Important grass cutting along highway verges will be taking place across Northumberland over the coming weeks.

More than 7,000km of verges are cut during the summer months each year.

Last year, this was done more quickly than in previous years and again in 2018 the county council aims to have cut all the verges once by late July or early August, as this will enable a second cut of key junctions and other areas.

These works are vital to ensure that vegetation does not restrict visibility for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

In addition to the road safety benefits, they also improve the look of an area and keep the network in better condition by preventing plants taking hold on the side of roads.

Once again, the council is leasing a tractor with special cutting equipment over the summer and it has bought another machine to ensure that it completes all scheduled cuts without delay.

There are a small number of verges that will be left intentionally uncut to maintain flower-rich habitats in specific areas of interest and these will be cut later in the season.

Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “It’s really important to maintain our streets and roads efficiently so our county looks and feels well kept. Additionally, our grass verges need to be kept in good order to help prevent accidents.

“However, we’ve also worked with conservation groups and others to identify environmentally important verges and we now leave a number uncut until the autumn.”

The verge works complement the weed treatment programme that is in full swing in towns and villages – the council is investing £125,000 in improving its coverage.

In recent years, most weed spraying treatments have been contracted out. This year, the local authority is employing 10 extra staff to ensure its teams have the capacity to undertake the work.

For the first time, the council will be adding a harmless blue coloured dye to the treatment so the public can see where has been treated.