RESIDENTS are upset at a grass verge outside their homes being turned into parking spaces.
Oxfordshire County Council decided to carry out the work in Upton Close, Henley, because the verge was being used by people to park, creating a muddy mess.
But residents are angry that they were given little notice and complain that many people who park in the cul-de sac off Reading Road are not residents but visitors or workers.
Some are also upset at the loss of hundreds of spring bulbs that were planted in the verge by volunteers.
Residents first learned of the work when they received a letter, dated August 28, 2012, from the county council on January 8. Contractors arrived two days later to begin levelling the site.
Now workmen will lay “grass-crete”, a material that can withstand up to 40 tonnes and is marketed as the “green” way to eliminate kerb edges because it allows grass to grow through it.
The letter said the work would allow additional parking while “retaining the green nature of the verge”.
Town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “Anything that makes it look a little neater is a good thing. Grass-crete is just to keep the place tidy and stop it from getting too muddy. What had been happening there was informal parking and people were running up on to the grass verge.
“People will still be able to park there but it will be a lot more neat and tidy and better for everyone.”
But resident Tricia Clements, whose house overlooks the verge, said: “I do not believe we are going to benefit from this at all.
“They probably think that they are doing us a really good turn by creating more parking but they have not looked into it enough.”
She said residents needed more parking spaces but creating more would only encourage other people to use the street to park. Ms Clements, who has lived in Upton Close since 1995, said: “Little wooden posts to prevent people from parking there would have been better.
“The main road is a pain as it is noisy but we still had that little bit of green. Now I have a car park opposite me and we all have to fight for spaces — it is such a shame.”
Jack Meek, a groundsman who moved to Upton Close in May, said: “We are a really nice community but we have a big issue with people who come into Henley and park here. When someone leaves in the morning, another person parks in their place straight away.
“All the council had to do was put fence posts on the verge. No one parks there right now, they just drive up the kerb when they can’t get past.”
Neighbour Chloe James said: “‘Green’ concrete does not sound great and it is not going to make any difference to residents.
“It will probably make the front of Upton Close look even worse than it does. They should spend the money on fixing potholes.”
Ms James, who works in advertising, pointed out that in October scores of crocus bulbs were planted in the verge by Henley in Bloom volunteers.
She said: “It seems a shame that the bulbs that have been planted have already been ruined by people parking there. I hope they will plant more flowers to make it look nicer for residents.”
Councillor Kellie Gehrmann, chairwoman of Henley in Bloom, said: “It is disappointing that the good work of volunteers has basically been trashed but it is a necessary thing.
“We can put some more bulbs on the other side of the verge and I am sure that the town council will be able to do something in the spirit of wanting to please residents and the community and making the town look nice.”
A county council spokesman said: “An opportunity arose for us to start the work earlier than anticipated as a result of a shift in priorities elsewhere in the county. We did write to residents to let them know about the revised date and apologised for the short notice.
“The feedback we have received shows that some of the residents are happy that the work will be completed ahead of schedule.”