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Councillors get caught up in the long grass

By Rebecca Black

Published 02/07/2015

A DUP councillor has blamed the long grass blighting Northern Ireland's verges on nationalists.

Others at last night's meeting of Belfast City Council also highlighted how the lack of agreement at Stormont over wefare reform was having a trickle-down effect that has now reached our roadsides.

Councillors across the chamber spoke about receiving many complaints from ratepayers angry about the unsightly overgrown grass verges.

A grass cut is under way across Northern Ireland, but Alliance councillor Michael Long said a long-term solution must be found to the problem.

"I think there are ways we could do this more cleverly, just leaving the grass to grow is not the way to do it," he told the council.

"It looks unsightly and there are a lot of people complaining about it. If we don't get another cut until September it is going to get very untidy."

The SDLP's Tim Attwood said it was a "reputational issue for the council", pointing out that many people did not realise that it was Transport NI's responsibility, and not that of the council.

"It is not acceptable for Transport NI to abandon the grass in Belfast," he said.

But the DUP's Christopher Stalford said it was the failure of the parties opposite (Sinn Fein and the SDLP) to agree a budget at Stormont that was the cause of the problem.

"It starts with grass not being cut, street lights not being replaced and it will get worse and worse and worse."

Ulster Unionist Jim Rodgers echoed these concerns.

"Last year there were five cuts of grass, the year before that there were eight cuts, this is all down to the welfare reform not being agreed at Stormont," he said.

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