Flowers ‘need your support’

A NUMBER of county residents are calling on their local authority to do more to protect wildflowers on road verges.

As part of the Flowers on the Edge campaign by the Plantlife charity, the public voted on how well or badly councils look after these plants every week throughout the summer.

Northumberland was one of those to be dubbed ‘worst council’ after dozens of complaints were made about its actions.

A Plantlife survey revealed that more than 75 per cent of the authorities it contacted cut their verges multiple times over the spring and summer.

It believes this decimates the wildflowers growing in these areas and jeopardises the wildlife that rely on them.

Chief Executive Victoria Chester said: “Our wayside flowers are under attack and people are frustrated and angry at what they see as verging on vandalism.

“Flowers are routinely being mown down in full bloom and the cuttings left to rot and smother remaining plants.

“Over time, only nettles and coarse grasses can survive this onslaught.”

The charity claims that with about three times more grassland on road verges than there is left in the countryside, they are a vital last refuge for the plants.

It is not campaigning for the cutting to stop, but that (beyond safety cuts at junctions and other important places) verges should only be cut once, later in the year.

This would cost the taxpayer less as an added benefit.

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “Grass cutting can be an emotive subject, with a wide range of views and expectations on how grass verges should be managed.

“The council through the ‘Growing Wild Project’ has been working with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and local communities, with the support of funding from the SITA Trust, to look at areas of grassland where we can encourage wildflower growth.

“Good progress is being made with this and it is anticipated that the positive reaction that we have received will mean that more sites will be added to the growing list.

“Striking the right balance between areas of manicured and wild land is important as we constantly review our grass-cutting regimes – taking into account the views of residents.”