A former Mayor of Lewes has branded grass verges in the town “a disgrace and a safety hazard”.
Cllr Graham Mayhew was incensed when he saw the results of last week’s verge cutting by East Sussex County Council.
“Incomprehensible” was his comment as he came across a public seat so overgrown it had almost disappeared into the undergrowth and a set of steps flanked by stinging nettles, all of which the mowers missed when they cut Brighton Road’s verges just before the Bank Holiday.
Cllr Mayhew said: “This is an appalling advertisement for our town as well as a safety hazard resulting from reduced visibility for drivers turning on to Brighton Road from Houndean Rise, Southdown Avenue and Montacute Road.
“I welcomed the idea of areas being given over to wild flowers and I fully support the work ‘Wildflower Lewes’ has done, where beds were carefully prepared, seeded and maintained.
“But simply leaving verges uncut means the thugs take over – dandelions, brambles, stinging nettles, ragwort, cow parsley – and crowd everything else out. It looks dreadful and gives the impression no-one cares.
“Until recent cutbacks the grass verges on the approaches to Lewes were beautifully maintained. Not any more. I understand why the county council can’t afford to do as many cuts as they used to be able to do, but when the scheduled cuts do take place shouldn’t they be done properly?”
Lewes Town Council’s Traffic Working Party recently considered a letter from the county council stating that in future it would only be providing two cuts a year instead of the previous six, unless the town council chose to pay for more. The committee duly agreed to recommend that the town council fund two extra cuts as there had been considerable local criticism of the state of the verges.
Cllr Mayhew is demanding that the contractors be called back to do the work properly.
An East Sussex Highways spokesman said: “This stretch of road is a wildlife verge, which has been designated as having a particular wildlife interest.
“By definition, wildlife verges are left wild, and to help maintain the habitats living within them we don’t normally cut these verges between the beginning of March and the end of August.
“The exception to this is the areas around junctions, which are cut to ensure good visibility for motorists, and this is the case at the junctions with roads leading off Brighton Road.
“However, we do take on board Cllr Mayhew’s comments regarding the seat and steps being overgrown and will be sending a crew to investigate and take action as required.”