Contractor grassed up in Trowbridge

This Is Wiltshire: Cllr Jeff Osborn with the residents of Lilac Grove, Trowbridge Cllr Jeff Osborn with the residents of Lilac Grove, Trowbridge

Residents are concerned that Balfour Beatty Living Places has not learned from the problems that arose when the company secured Wiltshire Council’s £150 million highways contract last year.

Trowbridge town and Wiltshire councillors Jeff Osborn and Graham Payne say they have received dozens of calls and emails from residents in Trowbridge complaining about uncut grass.

Cllr Osborn has had more than 20 residents in his Grove Ward contact him about the issue, while Cllr Graham Payne has had a similar number get in touch with him in the Drynham Ward.

Some of the worse affected areas included the estates around College Road, Brook Road and Wiltshire Drive, while Cllr Payne also had complaints about the grass in Elm Grove Playing Field.

Resident Jean Fletcher said grass near her home in Lilac Grove, Trowbridge, was knee- high in places. She said: “It’s terrible. They have not cut the grass near the corner of my house at all this year and they didn’t come round for the final cut before winter last year.”

The grass was cut on Wednesday, but Mrs Fletcher was unimpressed.

She said: “What a mess. It’s been cut but the grass is left on top. I think I might start building a hay rick.”

Another resident Derek Adams, who is chairman of College Estate Residents’ Association, said: “I don’t know what they are playing at, but it is not good enough. There doesn’t seem to be any routine, it’s a shambles.

“We understand there were problems when Balfour Beatty first got the contract as it was new. They did well during the flooding at Christmas, but now the grass has been allowed to get out of control again.”

A council scrutiny committee investigated the controversial contract, which attracted criticism when it was taken on by Balfour Beatty in June 2013, after residents complained about uncut verges and hedgerows.

The report from the scrutiny committee in January said the contractor’s performance was satisfactory, but highlighted areas for improvement.

Cllr Osborn, who first called for the contract to be investigated before Christmas, said: “They initially had teething problems, which was not great, but understandable, but you would have expected them to have got it right by now.

“I thought that we were getting somewhere after setting up the scrutiny committee and Balfour Beatty told me they were on top of things, but they haven’t done what they said they would.”

Cllr Payne added: “I have had more complaints this time than I did when we had the problems last year. We are not getting a good service.”

A BBLP spokesperson said: “We started urban grass cutting in early March, however, we recognise that a number of urban grassed areas need further work. We have drafted in three extra teams to focus on the west of the county, and a grounds maintenance specialist has been recruited to manage the work.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “BBLP have scheduled additional resources. We are confident these changes will deliver an improved performance.”

Comments (7)

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5:39pm Fri 9 May 14

westwood lister says...

The reason why they are so far behind with the grass cutting , is because they aren't taking on the right amount of staff needed to keep on top of it.
The reason why they are so far behind with the grass cutting , is because they aren't taking on the right amount of staff needed to keep on top of it. westwood lister
  • Score: 16

6:34pm Fri 9 May 14

Blanche Terraine says...

Perhaps it is the fault of the grass. Maybe it has become the wrong sort of grass, like the leaves on the railway a while back. Maybe hooligans are feeding fertiliser to the grass at dead of night. It probably isn't the fault of the council or their contractors.
Perhaps it is the fault of the grass. Maybe it has become the wrong sort of grass, like the leaves on the railway a while back. Maybe hooligans are feeding fertiliser to the grass at dead of night. It probably isn't the fault of the council or their contractors. Blanche Terraine
  • Score: 10

7:41pm Fri 9 May 14

melkshamwizard says...

the whole contract has been a mess from the start pot holes not repaired,as for the grass its as bad in Melksham ,but the councillors that arranged this contract are never going to admit that its been a failure,
the whole contract has been a mess from the start pot holes not repaired,as for the grass its as bad in Melksham ,but the councillors that arranged this contract are never going to admit that its been a failure, melkshamwizard
  • Score: 8

1:25am Sat 10 May 14

Mrs Donnyfly says...

So the grass is a bit long in places... boo hoo! I think there is a lot more going on in the world to worry about.
So the grass is a bit long in places... boo hoo! I think there is a lot more going on in the world to worry about. Mrs Donnyfly
  • Score: -13

12:28am Sun 11 May 14

beetawix says...

Mrs Donnyfly wrote:
So the grass is a bit long in places... boo hoo! I think there is a lot more going on in the world to worry about.
but that is not in the contract
[quote][p][bold]Mrs Donnyfly[/bold] wrote: So the grass is a bit long in places... boo hoo! I think there is a lot more going on in the world to worry about.[/p][/quote]but that is not in the contract beetawix
  • Score: 3

8:22am Sun 11 May 14

politepanda says...

Balfour Beatty knew what was required of them at the point of quoting for the Council contract. They undercut the opposition drastically in their desperation to get the contract. Within months of starting the contract they'd made employees redundant and were bleating for more money.
Instead of hauling them over the coals - tearing up the contract and finding a competent company - we STILL have BF.
Because Scott and co can't admit that our esteemed Council blew it, can they? No - let's chuck a lot more money at it - condescend to the public about times of austerity and blithely ignore the fact that they haven't, can't and WON'T meet contractual requirements.
In the real world - both the council and bf would be "in it" up to their necks.
But this is local government. Where councillors and their back-room boys are immune from reality.
Perhaps we should ALL watch more closely when the contract is again up for tender?
Balfour Beatty knew what was required of them at the point of quoting for the Council contract. They undercut the opposition drastically in their desperation to get the contract. Within months of starting the contract they'd made employees redundant and were bleating for more money. Instead of hauling them over the coals - tearing up the contract and finding a competent company - we STILL have BF. Because Scott and co can't admit that our esteemed Council blew it, can they? No - let's chuck a lot more money at it - condescend to the public about times of austerity and blithely ignore the fact that they haven't, can't and WON'T meet contractual requirements. In the real world - both the council and bf would be "in it" up to their necks. But this is local government. Where councillors and their back-room boys are immune from reality. Perhaps we should ALL watch more closely when the contract is again up for tender? politepanda
  • Score: 12

1:35pm Thu 29 May 14

carer 123 says...

The standard od grass cutting in westbury cemetery by balfour beatty is disgusting...sloppy at its best.... the grass around and leading up to my little boys brave was way up past my knees...ive made a complaint... this morning when i went up...grass cutters were there but cutting the shorter grass that had already been done a few weeks ago.... some grass had been cut recently but because it was way too long it now looks like its haymaking time at the cemetery.... the long grass and weeds up close to the graves are no longer strimmed like they always used to be under previous contractors. Its an utter disgrace. Ive never seen such shoddy work. When they are there they seem more interested in having a fag and food.....friends of mine have complained to actual workmen as theyve seen them andvthey couldnt care less.... they watched me cut around my sons grave so we could get at it.... its ever right...standards are terrible.... apparently it was a 150MILLION CONTRACT ... what the hell are they doing for that amount of money.... paths are terrible, pot holes in the roads..... hedges aand pathways are ovrgrown...grassed areas are over k ee high in weeds n grass...what the hell are they doing for their money??
The standard od grass cutting in westbury cemetery by balfour beatty is disgusting...sloppy at its best.... the grass around and leading up to my little boys brave was way up past my knees...ive made a complaint... this morning when i went up...grass cutters were there but cutting the shorter grass that had already been done a few weeks ago.... some grass had been cut recently but because it was way too long it now looks like its haymaking time at the cemetery.... the long grass and weeds up close to the graves are no longer strimmed like they always used to be under previous contractors. Its an utter disgrace. Ive never seen such shoddy work. When they are there they seem more interested in having a fag and food.....friends of mine have complained to actual workmen as theyve seen them andvthey couldnt care less.... they watched me cut around my sons grave so we could get at it.... its ever right...standards are terrible.... apparently it was a 150MILLION CONTRACT ... what the hell are they doing for that amount of money.... paths are terrible, pot holes in the roads..... hedges aand pathways are ovrgrown...grassed areas are over k ee high in weeds n grass...what the hell are they doing for their money?? carer 123
  • Score: 0

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