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I received this email from PKC today.  Please read right to the end where there  is a Q&A Section

PKC LogoPerth & Kinross Grounds Maintenance Review  I am writing following a review of the Council’s grounds maintenance activities across Perth & Kinross.  Our objective is to ensure there is a consistent and fair approach to the sites the Council currently maintains, and allocation of resources we have.

As part of this we are proposing to reduce maintenance on smaller shrub beds and on sites which are less prominent.  These sites will receive two maintenance visits per annum, once in July and once between November and March at which point all litter will be removed.  Any weeds present will be treated with non-selective herbicide during the scheduled visit in July.  Pruning will only be performed if shrubs are causing a hazard by encroaching onto footpaths and roadways or are blocking sightlines. No other pruning operations will be carried out. 

Where pruning operations are to be performed they will generally be carried out by mechanical means i.e. by tractor mounted side arm flail or mechanical hedge trimmer.  Should individuals or community groups wish to undertake a higher level of maintenance we would be pleased to discuss this with them.  Any shrub beds which are in a poor condition, do not provide any aesthetic enhancement to the area or are of little value to wildlife will be removed, and replaced by grass or other lower maintenance surface. 

In addition to the shrub beds and smaller sites, we also looked at grass cutting to verges on the approach to settlements.  In the majority of approaches to settlements in Perth and Kinross the Council only cut verges up to the 30mph signs which tend to mark the boundaries, on the key settlement approach roads.  In some locations however we are currently maintaining beyond these signs.  As such we are proposing to revise the work schedules to cut grass as far as the 30mph signs in your settlement from this April.  This would mean that there will be no grass cutting beyond the 30mph signs outwith the settlement unless this was organised by the community themselves (taking into account health and safety considerations)

It is also proposed to reduce grass maintenance on remoter sites where grass could be left to grow long without compromising the function of the space or creating difficulties for neighbours.  We would continue to regularly mow a strip along any path edges and garden boundaries to keep a tidy appearance and if there are walking routes across the spaces we would mow some grass paths.

It is intended that by taking a consistent approach to maintenance activities across the area, the Council will be able to ensure an appropriate standard of grounds maintenance is sustained.  We appreciate this will mean changes for some sites and communities, and therefore would be pleased to take on board any comments you may have.  We need to ensure that we are balancing our maintenance schedules with the resources available, however there may be alternative suggestions which would allow us to do this.

We would particularly welcome hearing from individuals or groups who would be interested in taking on the maintenance of the areas we have identified.  There may be opportunities for communities to use some of the spaces to grow food, plants or manage woodlands, possibly in association with the Woodland Trust http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk, or develop and maintain the shrub beds to suit the area.

The Scottish Government are also promoting Citizen Science which encourages the public to get more involved in their local environment http://www.environment.scotland.gov.uk/citizen_science.aspx and again there may be opportunities for people to take this forward on some of these sites.  In any of these cases we would need to discuss and agree the proposals before actions were taken on site.

A list of the sites affected and a description of the changes are available on www.pkc.gov.uk/groundsmaintenancereview and hard copies will be available in the Council Building, Pullar House, 35 Kinnoull Street, Perth and your local community campus from 8 March 2013 to 30 March 2013.  Any comments or suggestions should be sent to CommunityGreenspace@pkc.gov.uk  no later than 30 March 2013.   In the meantime please find below a Frequently Asked Questions Sheet which you may find useful.

If you want any further information on these issues, please contact CommunityGreenspace@pkc.gov.uk or the Council’s Customer Service Centre on 01738 475000. Yours sincerely Bruce Reekie, Waste Services & Community Greenspace Manager

Frequently Asked Questions

 Q. Why are the Council reducing grounds maintenance?

A. The pressures on public sector finances are well documented.  We need to ensure maintenance of public open spaces is carried out within the resources available and these are focussed on the most publicly used sites.

Q.  When will the reductions in maintenance take place?

A.  Maintenance reductions will take place after this consultation period and is planned to take effect from the beginning of April 2013.

 Q.  Why is maintenance being reduced on sites in my settlement?

 A.  Because we need to ensure we are being consistent with our maintenance standards we undertake in all communities throughout Perth and Kinross.

Q.  Can the community undertake the maintenance themselves?

A.  In general yes but you would need to discuss this with the Council as it is Council land and we have an obligation to ensure that maintenance is being undertaken safely and to a standard which is not detrimental to Council land

Q.  Is there any help the Council can give to community groups or individuals who want to take on maintenance?

A.  Yes the Council can provide advice and may be able to award grants to local groups who are interested in looking after green spaces on a long term basis.  We would welcome the chance to discuss this with communities.

Q. Can individuals buy the site or part of it if it is next to their house?

 A.  Possibly, we would need to be sure that there were no practical issues such as access for services and they would need to get planning permission for a change of use and pay the legal fees.

Q. Could a community group buy or lease the whole site?

 A.  Possibly, we would need to be sure the rest of the community would be happy with that, there were no practical issues such as access for services , they may need to get planning permission for a change of use and would need to pay the legal fees.   The group would need to be properly constituted to hold land, have public liability insurance and manage finances.

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