Long Melford cutbacks create a ‘wilderness’

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“RIDICULOUS” changes to grass cutting in a village have left it looking like “the wilderness”, according to residents.

The upkeep of Long Melford’s grass areas has been criticised after Babergh District Council decided to reduce the frequency of cutting grass around the base of trees from 14 times to just once per year.

Len Jarvis, who has lived in Middle Way for 30 years, said residents were outraged at the state of the village.

“Everybody is up in arms about it, it is ridiculous,” he said. “The grass is overgrown, unsightly and people drop rubbish in it.”

Mr Jarvis added that cut grass which has been left by mowers to dry out in the sun poses a significant fire risk.

“If something was to go up in flames then the trees would go up too, and if somebody decides to set light to the dry stuff then a whole house could burn down,” he said.

The council has chosen Long Melford and Lawshall as locations for a year-long trial of the scheme, which aims to promote biodiversity and encourage native wildlife.

Richard Kemp, district councillor for Long Melford, said: “I’ve had lots of complaints, which I have referred on to Babergh.

“I can understand the council’s wish to support wildlife, but I think it should have trialled a smaller area – it is doing it to the whole of Long Melford as far as I can see – and announced what it is doing to the taxpayers who pay for the grass cutting.”

Mr Jarvis added: “I think it has more to do with cutbacks than wildlife.”

Babergh horticulture officer Jane Seymour said contractors had been instructed to raise their cutting height following six weeks of heavy rain.

“After inspecting the work, we were satisfied with the job our contractors managed to do in the very difficult circumstances,” she said, adding that it was now dry enough to reduce the cutting height.

“Our contractors have taken time out of their schedule to specifically cut grass in Southgate Gardens in Long Melford at the request of the residents who had organised an official jubilee event on this open space,” added Mrs Seymour.

“Our contractors also worked over the two bank holiday days in order to get back to Long Melford to cut the grass.”

She denied that the trial was due to financial constraints, adding that contractors would be using the time previously spent in the trial areas elsewhere.

“Cut grass is found around all our estates throughout grass cutting season,” said Mrs Seymour. “It is not and never has been a fire hazard.”

RIDICULOUS: Len Jarvis says residents in Long Melford are outraged at the state of the village.