Grass cutting update
In April’s NABO News, we set the scene for CRT’s mowing plans for this summer. So how is it going? Well it is clear that not all is well. The only really good point is that there are a very great number of wild flowers on the towpath fringes.In an unprecedented admission, CRT’s Boaters Update in June admits that the transfer of work from Fountains to three separate contracts is not going well and mowing is not getting done.We are now at the peak growth period and mowing should be happening monthly to keep walking areas clear and safe, but I see little evidence of this in the West Midlands area where I am cruising. The longstanding requirements for cut to edge at bridge holes, lines of sight and casual moorings are just not being done. I see towpaths are generally cut, but I doubt the month frequency. I am hearing reports of lock flights left uncut.The main cutting routine for this year was to have been four cuts in April, May June and July, and then the final autumn cut to edge. So if your local mowing is poor so far, there is really only July to get this back on track. So what can you do? As always report, report and report. Be specific on location and use the website tool or the regional Twitter account. The CRT words on this are provided below. All really rather disappointing.
At the start of April, CRT appointed three new vegetation management contractors to manage and maintain waterside trees, hedges and grass. It reports that the new contracts offer significantly better value for money and enable CRT to reinvest savings to address the backlog of offside vegetation improvements. But the Trust acknowledges that it is taking longer than expected to deliver the service, which is resulting in towpath grass being over-long and uncut in some areas. CRT explains the reasons as follows:
- The transfer of staff from the previous contractors and filling resource gaps took longer for the contractors to complete and continues to be an issue.
- New teams familiarising themselves with the network and CRT’s specifications.
- A technical issue resulting in not all specifications being available straightaway.
To resolve this, CRT is:
- Meeting frequently with contractors’ senior staff to identify issues, review resources on the ground and progress, to get back on programme. Additional resources are arriving, but it will take time for these to get up to speed and for the impact to be widely seen.
- Local, regular, often daily discussions with the contractors’ team managers to make sure that priorities are clear, to be able to move to areas requiring urgent action, and to deal with new problems.
- Holding contractors to account and ensuring that they are not being paid for works that have not been completed.
CRT acknowledges that it is not where it would want to be and it’s likely to be the end of summer before it gets the programme back to where it should be. Any views and feedback on the condition of vegetation, with photos or other information, should be sent to