Saturday, 28 November 2020

Clerk: we would cut hedges more cheaply

HEDGES could be maintained more cheaply if the task was given to parish councils, it has been claimed.

HEDGES could be maintained more cheaply if the task was given to parish councils, it has been claimed.

The work is currently carried out by Oxfordshire County Council but Philip Collings, Sonning Common’s parish clerk, says the cost could be reduced by delegating it.

He says parish councils could pay farmers and contractors to cut hedges in return for a grant from the county council.

Mr Collings said: “We could get a much better job done much cheaper if the county council gave us a proportion of the money they have budgeted for it. We wouldn’t have the bureaucratic overheads.”

The parish council already receives £2,900 annually from the county council to cut grass verges on the main roads in the village four times a year.

Mr Collings said: “We have a really successful situation with the grass cutting. We do twice the amount of work they would do.”

The county council says it needs to save £60 million over the next four years and Mr Collings says his idea would help if it was replicated in other parishes.

“It’s an interesting principle for the whole area,” he said. “If the Government is serious about localism then this is exactly the sort of thing they should do.”

Mr Collings is to discuss his idea with David Bartholomew, who represents Sonning Common on the county council, and area steward Keith Stenning.

Meanwhile, the parish council is still considering what to do about an overgrown hedge by a footpath in Margaret Allwright Way which costs £1,500 a year to maintain.

Mr Collings said: “Most people regard it not so much as a hedge but a load of dead trees holding up ivy and bramble. People don’t like walking along there in the dark with brambles sticking out.

“It’s costing us a lot of money for a hedge that’s barely functional and highly unattractive and actually a menace. The question is what’s the most cost effective way of replacing it.”

There are seven houses on the other side of a fence bordering the hedge.

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