Councillor’s change of heart over mowing and strimming of green spaces

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A self-described ‘fiend’ for grass cutting and strimming, even Caol and Mallaig councillor Allan Henderson says he has now become a convert to seeing more open green spaces being allowed to grow just that little bit wilder.

Councillor Henderson told the recent Highland Council full meeting during a discussion on recommendations as part of its medium term financial planning approach, that he now enjoyed seeing more splashes of colour from wildflowers where once there were just uniform strips of green.

The council is having to plan for a budget gap in 2022-23 ranging from £9m at best, to as much as £35.4m.

In preparation for this, councillors last week agreed a £1.61m package of initial savings for 2022/23 which included efficiencies through reduced staff travel costs, procurement savings, cost recovery, deletion of some vacant posts and an increase in commercial waste charges.

And there are potential savings to be made from reducing the amount of strimming and grass cutting undertaken each year, although Councillor Henderson warned it was important to use local knowledge and gain the backing of communities.

He told his fellow councillors: ‘Something else that was touched on was the amenity service. If you look at the savings that are made there, some of them have already been proven. It is all just good housekeeping and taking that money out of budget.

‘I know it is different for city people when it comes to amenities and how you can change things but in rural areas where you can work with communities, what tourists want now is green tourism, and there is a huge drive to having nice open green services, letting people see we have colour rather than pristine cut areas.

‘I was a fiend myself for having stuff cut to the bone at one time. But I’ve changed my mind and everything looks so much better nowadays. I get to see colour in my eyes instead of just green.’

Lochaber councillor Allan Henderson says doing nothing about the Corran Ferry is not an option. NO-F48-Allan-Henderson
Lochaber councillor Allan Henderson.
NO-F48-Allan-Henderson

Asked  to explain more about his change of heart, Councillor Henderson told the Lochaber Times that with less staff members available during the Covid pandemic, there had been less mowing and strimming.

‘And there also wasn’t a huge clamour from residents during this period and it seems when you are working with communities it is important not to over egg their expectations.

‘I think we need to use local knowledge more to get better results, although you will still always get the one or two who will complain but they are in the minority I would say now.

Transport Scotland did not cut some of their areas and it has been fantastic seeing all those yellow wild flowers instead of just willow herb. I’ve got quite a few people saying it’s so much nicer.’

CAPTION:

A group from Lochaber Natural History Society surveys a wildflower verge in 2019.

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Extra pic: NO-F48-Allan-Henderson