Growing pains at ex-council houses

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CONCERNS have been raised about grass growing too tall in plots outside former council housing across the county.

Isos used to contract its grounds maintenance works, which include grass cutting, to Northumberland County Council but it recently changed to another supplier – Vale Contract Services.

But following the changeover, coupled with the wet April weather and the Easter period, residents have complained that patches of land on their street have yet to receive their first cut.

The affected areas include outside Isos properties in Morpeth, Pegswood, Whalton and Thornhill Road in Ponteland, although work is on-going to try to catch up on the backlog.

County councillor for Ponteland North Richard Dodd, whose ward includes Thornhill Road and Whalton, said: “The new contractors have been slow to get going and many places have suffered delays to their grass cutting.

“I sent an email out to fellow councillors and a number of them replied that there were similar problems in their ward.

“For example, it can’t be fair that the county council workers will cut the greens in Whalton but the section of grass in front of old people’s homes is left uncut. Even if different organisations are doing the work, there should be some co-ordination to make sure that each area gets covered at around the same time.”

An Isos spokesman said it estimates that Vale is about five days behind schedule and it has provided extra teams to catch up, including working on Saturdays, to get the contract up to date.

“We have revised and improved the contract specification so that all sites get the same level of service, and we are fair to all our residents since they all contribute to the cost through their rent payments,” he added.

“Previously, some sites were cut more often than others, which meant some areas got a better service than others. Our residents were consulted about the specification change.

“Vale has enough equipment to carry out the Isos contract and what it has is tailored specifically for our contract.

“The vehicles and equipment are also brand new and Vale has rigorous maintenance schedules in place for them.

“We know it is frustrating for residents when the areas around their homes become untidy, but we are confident the contract will soon be up to date.”