APPEALS to rethink cutbacks on cutting grass road verges across North Yorkshire have been thrown out by county council bosses, leaving many town and parish councils to foot the bills themselves.
North Yorkshire County Council is set to save up to £500,000 a year with the withdrawal of much of the existing grass cutting along road verges.
Work will now be restricted to cuts purely for road safety, with many areas left with only “visibility squares” of mown grass.
In the past, the county council has often shared costs with local councils on what was known as amenity cuts to improve the appearance of verges along North Yorkshire’s 9,000 kilometres of roads.
The Yorkshire Coast and Moors Area committee, which includes many rural parishes objected to the reductions and called on the council to think again.
Coulcillor John Blackburn said:” Some of the smaller rural parishes will face horrendous increases in expenditure due to these cuts. Could the council look at a reduction of maybe 50 per cent instead of 100 per cent? ”
But Cllr Gareth Dadd said one parish council whose members said they were facing an increase in their precept of 50 per cent, actually meant each property paying five pence per week.
He said the county council was faced with having to make huge savings and it was up to local communities to decide what their priorities were and what they want to spend their money on.
He said: “I don’t accept these horrendous rises to cover amenity grass cutting.
"It might sound excessive in percentage terms but not in financial terms. That’s the whole point of localism, giving the right to choose but the responsibility to fund to communities."
Cllr Dadd added: “I am not going to see elderly people or children’s education disadvantaged because a parish council is going to have to put ten per cent onto the precept. I don’t think it’s right."
Council leader John Weighell said the parish councils were still allowed to increase council tax.
"The borough and county council’s can’t raise council tax other than through the limits set by the Government which maybe one per cent or two per cent this year," he said.
"Parish councils can still increase council tax and proposals to cap the parish council’s aren’t going anywhere."
The executive committee refused to reconsider the review, but councillors said they would look at safety issues when a new map is produced of grass cutting and costs due out in October.