'It looks like a tip' - Breckland residents bemoan uncut verges

Toftwood resident Jack James

Toftwood resident Jack James said his street was "beginning to look like a tip" due to the uncut verges. - Credit: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

While streets across the region are lovingly decorated for the Jubilee and bedecked with bunting and flags, several roads in Breckland are catching the eye for a different reason entirely.

Grass verges in a number of communities have been left to grow as high as 2ft - much to the annoyance of residents, who say the authorities have failed to maintain them in the same manner as previous years.

The problem has been reported in Dereham, Toftwood, Mattishall and Swanton Morley, with one parish council blaming Norfolk County Council for ending a contract to carry out the work and failing to replace it with another.

Uncut grass verges on Middlemarch Road in Dereham. Picture: Danielle Booden

Uncut grass verges on Middlemarch Road in Dereham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Toftwood resident Jack James, 76, said the verges were starting to attract attention from visitors. 

“Every time someone comes here, they say ‘Look at the state of your grass’.”

“It’s terrible. It’s beginning to look like a tip.

“They [the council] had a guy come down here a couple of weeks ago, and they did a bit on the main road, but they haven’t come round here.” 

Toftwood resident Jack James

Toftwood resident Jack James - Credit: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

Uncut grass verges on Middlemarch Road in Dereham.

Uncut grass verges on Middlemarch Road in Dereham. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

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He was joined in his concerns by neighbour Velma Lambert, 83, who said: “You’d think they’d cut it, wouldn’t you?

Toftwood resident Velma Lambert

Toftwood resident Velma Lambert - Credit: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

“It would tidy the place up. I can’t do much about it, if they won’t do it.”

Concerns over the roads’ perceived shabbiness are running especially high during the Platinum Jubilee weekend, when communities are celebrating at street parties across the country.

Dereham is celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee over the bank holiday weekend. 

Dereham is celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee over the bank holiday weekend. - Credit: Noah VIckers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

In a Facebook post, Swanton Morley Parish Council said the "appalling state" of the verges was "a result of Norfolk County Council [NCC] ceasing its contract with Breckland Council (via its contractor Serco) but having nothing in place to replace the service."

Parish council chairman Roger Atterwill said: "In a nutshell, NCC slashed it's budget, didn't communicate with any of the parishes and has left us all in the lurch. It has been totally shambolic from start to finish."

Breckland councillor and Swanton Morley Parish Council chairman, Roger Atterwill, is concerned about

Swanton Morley Parish Council chairman Roger Atterwill, who also represents the area as leader of the Independent Group on Breckland Council - Credit: Breckland District Council

Mr Atterwill added: "We have had amenity grass here in Swanton Morley that wasn't cut since last year. It was nearly 2ft tall in places.

"The parish council has had to employ a contractor to cut it... To leave it would look like we had entered the haymaking business."

Uncut grass verges on Middlemarch Road in Dereham. Picture: Danielle Booden

Uncut grass verges on Middlemarch Road in Dereham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

An NCC spokeswoman said: “We cut verges for safety reasons, not appearance, so making sure verges are cut for visibility every year is a vital piece of the work we do to keep our roads safe.

"Up to around one metre of verge from the edge of the road is cut in most areas with wider areas around corners and junctions cut to make sure visibility is maintained.

Uncut grass surrounds the 'Welcome to Dereham' sign on the A1075 road in Toftwood

Uncut grass surrounds the 'Welcome to Dereham' sign on the A1075 road in Toftwood - Credit: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

“Balancing safety and nature is also key, and we now cut rural roadsides less often, and our pollinator action plan, and 112 roadside nature reserves, with 188 more on the way, are helping to boost biodiversity along roads and paths across the county.”