Grass-cutters still playing catch-up

GRASS cutting services for former council housing areas is still behind schedule almost five months after the contractor was changed.

Isos used to allocate its grounds and garden maintenance works to Northumberland County Council, but in April it changed to another supplier, Vale Contract Services.

Since then, the organisation has been trying to catch up with a backlog that was created in the gap between the transfer, which has not been helped by the large number of heavy rain showers.

But residents in parts of Morpeth, Ponteland and surrounding villages complained that their area was not being cut at all or to a poor standard, leading Isos to apologise that a few places had been mistakenly omitted from the contract.

One of the places affected was Whalton and Ponteland North county councillor Richard Dodd resorted to using his own machinery to give the grass outside a set of bungalows its first cut of the year.

And at a meeting of Pegswood Parish Council on Monday, the housing association’s Executive Director of Customers and Communities Tina Drury said: “We thought that we would have caught up with the grass-cutting works by now, but unfortunately we’re still behind schedule. We have expressed our concern and disappointment with Vale Contract Services about the situation, but we’re also offering our support to help it put things right.

“We have received assurances that it will be bringing in a contracts manager and local subcontractors will be sought to see if they can help with some of the programme.

“Our figure for the total number of cuts by the end of October remains the same as we think Vale can get fully caught up with the schedule, but we realise that it has a lot of work to do.”

County and parish councillor for Pegswood, David Woodard, raised concerns from residents of Bentinck Crescent about the state of the footpaths and garages, owned by Isos.

They included worries that children could hurt themselves badly if they play on the garages.

He said the footpaths were part county council and part Isos’ responsibility and it would be useful for officers from both organisations to come out to see the damage.

Mrs Drury said the organisation is looking to form closer working relationships with parish and town councils and Pegswood Chairman Peter Stonell added that it would be useful to resume the walkabouts across the village that were carried out before Castle Morpeth Housing amalgamated into Isos so residents could raise matters with officers face-to-face.