We hear much about the Government’s austerity programme, particularly its impact on social welfare and community related spending at local government level. One area targeted for savings was highlighted in local media earlier this year: grass cutting. It was reported that Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) would approximately halve its budget, which was widely interpreted that funded grass cutting would be reduced from 5 to 2 cuts per year.
For many years Yarnton has benefitted from OCC funding, but has further funded from within its budget to ensure 8 cuts per year, and more recently for some areas to be cut 16 times per year. In light of radically reduced funding it has been necessary for Yarnton Parish Council (YPC) to discuss what it plans for the next two-year contract that will run from 2016 through to the end of 2017.
It was unanimously agreed that burial ground maintenance would carry on as at present. For grass cutting within the village, three options were considered.
1. Receive no OCC funding and hand the responsibility for grass maintenance back to the County Council.
2. Reduce the number of cuts to be consistent with OCC funding.
3. Use budget reserves to maintain the contract as at present.
Councillors and the contractor are sensitive to the balance between appearance and the need to provide habitat and care to flora and fauna. Yarnton is not alone in receiving complaints that the appearance of amenity areas is untidy and demonstrates absence of civic pride, alongside complaints that spring flowers and wildlife habitat have been massacred. That said, and although there is always room for improvement, YPC has opted for Option 3, i.e. to maintain present arrangements using budget reserves. In order to be consistent throughout the village, it also was agreed that the very small number of verges fronting properties that have been cut by the contractor will no longer be included. It is hoped that as part of the ‘Big Society’ promoted by the Prime Minister, neighbours will help those who are unable to maintain these small patches.
If you have comments or observations regarding the above plan, or indeed other aspects of village grass cutting, please write to the Parish Clerk. The letter may be posted into the box at the VillageHhall or emailed to: [email protected]
Colin Watson is trying to catch up with his past and is looking for a girl called Avril who lived in Yarnton in the '60s. She came to his sister's wedding in Netheravon Catholic Church. If anyone knows her perhaps they could ask her to get in touch on [email protected]