We'll mow it ourselves then, councillors tell Balfour Beatty

Wiltshire Times: Councillors John Potter, Magnus Macdonald and Laurie Brown Councillors John Potter, Magnus Macdonald and Laurie Brown

Bradford on Avon councillors were so fed-up with overgrown grass being ignored by a county contractor they turned out to cut it themselves.

Now they have sent Balfour Beatty’s chairman a bill for £250.

After growing exasperated with the overgrown grass at Westbury Gardens in the town centre, town councillors Laurie Brown and Magnus Macdonald joined town mayor John Potter for some impromptu gardening.

Theirs is the latest complaint about a lack of cutting by the holder of the Wiltshire Council contract.

The councillors spent four hours on Sunday afternoon cutting the grass, which had grown to over a foot tall in places, and will now be billing Wiltshire Council’s controversial highways contractor for their time.

Coun Potter said: “I came back from holiday on Saturday and there was an event in Westbury Gardens, and the state of the grass was shocking.

“I just thought, this is mad, there is no point writing a letter of complaint, so why don’t we just do it?

“We just thought we would shame them into doing something, so we are going to send a bill for £250 to the chairman of Balfour Beatty. I bet his lawn is cut nicely.”

The firm has attracted extensive criticism over its grass-cutting provision in the west of the county since it took over the £150 million five-year contract in 2012.

The firm recently admitted it had drafted in additional teams from across the county to help clear the backlog in Trowbridge.

Coun Potter said: “It used to be done by English Landscapes and it was fine, but this is absolutely terrible. All the flower beds are completely dead, it looks like a bomb has gone off and everybody died.

“We left a small strip so you can see how long it was, but it was so long we couldn’t just cut it and let the clippings land there, we had to take them away. Normally it would only take an hour.

“I am hoping we will be able to get the council and Balfour Beatty to get a schedule of their mowing and put them up in public places.”

A council spokesman said: "We are continuing to work with our contractors Balfour Beatty Living Places to ensure grass cutting in the west of county returns to schedule and we are close to being back on track.”

Comments (18)

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5:41pm Thu 12 Jun 14

Blanche Terraine says...

Who approved the contract being awarded to Balfour Beatty Living Places? Why have they not resigned?
Who approved the contract being awarded to Balfour Beatty Living Places? Why have they not resigned? Blanche Terraine
  • Score: 17

5:52pm Thu 12 Jun 14

Tacho says...

Went past county hall in Trowbridge today, funnily enough the grass at the front was immaculately cut. Wonder who schedules the work for that ?.
Went past county hall in Trowbridge today, funnily enough the grass at the front was immaculately cut. Wonder who schedules the work for that ?. Tacho
  • Score: 18

7:03pm Thu 12 Jun 14

godsake says...

OMG, £250 for 4 hrs work see Bradford on Avon Councillors and other Councillors don't live in real world where the grass cutters get payed the minimum wage for a 40hr week as well as trying to support a young family :( Maybe you should cut the grass more often as you seem to have more time than the working minimum wage person and also your payed by oh guess who lol (the council)
OMG, £250 for 4 hrs work see Bradford on Avon Councillors and other Councillors don't live in real world where the grass cutters get payed the minimum wage for a 40hr week as well as trying to support a young family :( Maybe you should cut the grass more often as you seem to have more time than the working minimum wage person and also your payed by oh guess who lol (the council) godsake
  • Score: -2

8:07pm Thu 12 Jun 14

carer 123 says...

Nearly there?? Thats the biggest laugh ive had for a while ... balfour beatty are a disgrace... what work they have done is shoddy andmpoor standard. At least employ peolple who like gardening. This year and last at westbury cemetery has been a disgrace... my little boys grave was up to my knees a month ago.... i ended up cutting it myself in the rain with scissors because the workers prefered to only do the large grass areas not around and between the graves like had been usually done.. ive never seen so much grass and weeds there in all the years ive been going there... n yes ive complained everywhere over the past few weeks... social media is a wonderful things for getting your point across... shout out enough someone always jumps in to take the praise especially if elections are looming... people have a long memory...
Nearly there?? Thats the biggest laugh ive had for a while ... balfour beatty are a disgrace... what work they have done is shoddy andmpoor standard. At least employ peolple who like gardening. This year and last at westbury cemetery has been a disgrace... my little boys grave was up to my knees a month ago.... i ended up cutting it myself in the rain with scissors because the workers prefered to only do the large grass areas not around and between the graves like had been usually done.. ive never seen so much grass and weeds there in all the years ive been going there... n yes ive complained everywhere over the past few weeks... social media is a wonderful things for getting your point across... shout out enough someone always jumps in to take the praise especially if elections are looming... people have a long memory... carer 123
  • Score: 13

5:38am Fri 13 Jun 14

politepanda says...

Mow it yourselves???? Man up - get into her ladyship's office and tell her to get those PAID to do the work to get off their backsides and get it done - or scrap the contract and give the work to those capable. Like the teams that used to do the job. PROPERLY.
Mow it yourselves???? Man up - get into her ladyship's office and tell her to get those PAID to do the work to get off their backsides and get it done - or scrap the contract and give the work to those capable. Like the teams that used to do the job. PROPERLY. politepanda
  • Score: 16

6:05am Fri 13 Jun 14

nokia says...

Im a courier and I drive around trowbridge and surrounding areas and it is a total disgrace. On the road through southwick and rode and on the duel carriage way to standerwick some of the road signs are covered up where the grass is so long. If they cant for fill there contract give it to someone who can and lets get our county back to how lovely it was.
Im a courier and I drive around trowbridge and surrounding areas and it is a total disgrace. On the road through southwick and rode and on the duel carriage way to standerwick some of the road signs are covered up where the grass is so long. If they cant for fill there contract give it to someone who can and lets get our county back to how lovely it was. nokia
  • Score: 14

8:17am Fri 13 Jun 14

garybillington says...

Fair play to the Councillors for stepping in - but there's no such thing as a selfless act. 4 hours work, a temporary fix to a long term problem, and as much free publicity as they can muster.
Fair play to the Councillors for stepping in - but there's no such thing as a selfless act. 4 hours work, a temporary fix to a long term problem, and as much free publicity as they can muster. garybillington
  • Score: 4

9:10am Fri 13 Jun 14

vox sanitatem says...

Good intentions, but there are a few Health And Safety implications here.

No goggles to protect from flicked up fossilised dog doo-doo
No Hi-Vis jackets in case they can't be seen
No protective headgear to protect from falling seagulls guano

With tongue firmly in cheek here!! ;)
Good intentions, but there are a few Health And Safety implications here. No goggles to protect from flicked up fossilised dog doo-doo No Hi-Vis jackets in case they can't be seen No protective headgear to protect from falling seagulls guano With tongue firmly in cheek here!! ;) vox sanitatem
  • Score: 20

10:23am Fri 13 Jun 14

New 2 Trow says...

If the Dames and Lords of Wiltshire wouldn't mind putting up with a bit of long grass alongside roads, there is actually a very positive benefit to wildlife who need long grass as transport corridors. Once verges are cut they are restricted to the hedgerows only.

So how about a review where the country roads and lanes are cut less so the cost of the contract could come down? A win-win, less money spent and improved and increase wildlife.
If the Dames and Lords of Wiltshire wouldn't mind putting up with a bit of long grass alongside roads, there is actually a very positive benefit to wildlife who need long grass as transport corridors. Once verges are cut they are restricted to the hedgerows only. So how about a review where the country roads and lanes are cut less so the cost of the contract could come down? A win-win, less money spent and improved and increase wildlife. New 2 Trow
  • Score: 10

10:33am Fri 13 Jun 14

Wilts_born_n_bred says...

godsake wrote:
OMG, £250 for 4 hrs work see Bradford on Avon Councillors and other Councillors don't live in real world where the grass cutters get payed the minimum wage for a 40hr week as well as trying to support a young family :( Maybe you should cut the grass more often as you seem to have more time than the working minimum wage person and also your payed by oh guess who lol (the council)
The £250 wasn't for 4 hours work, it was 3 men at 4 hours so 12 hours. In addition to that they have provided their own equipment (petrol mowers and strimmers aren't cheap bits of kit), they have used their own vechicles to arrive at the site, they have had to fuel the equipment, they could go down the lines of not being provided with a uniform and also having to wash said uniform/clothes. Then there is the time spent preparing the invoice and other admin tasks.
If your only concern when pricing a job for an hourly rate is 1 bloke turning up to do it then this might be a contributing factor towards why your earn minimum wage.
[quote][p][bold]godsake[/bold] wrote: OMG, £250 for 4 hrs work see Bradford on Avon Councillors and other Councillors don't live in real world where the grass cutters get payed the minimum wage for a 40hr week as well as trying to support a young family :( Maybe you should cut the grass more often as you seem to have more time than the working minimum wage person and also your payed by oh guess who lol (the council)[/p][/quote]The £250 wasn't for 4 hours work, it was 3 men at 4 hours so 12 hours. In addition to that they have provided their own equipment (petrol mowers and strimmers aren't cheap bits of kit), they have used their own vechicles to arrive at the site, they have had to fuel the equipment, they could go down the lines of not being provided with a uniform and also having to wash said uniform/clothes. Then there is the time spent preparing the invoice and other admin tasks. If your only concern when pricing a job for an hourly rate is 1 bloke turning up to do it then this might be a contributing factor towards why your earn minimum wage. Wilts_born_n_bred
  • Score: 15

11:04am Fri 13 Jun 14

cjb1958-2012 says...

Blanche Terraine wrote:
Who approved the contract being awarded to Balfour Beatty Living Places? Why have they not resigned?
I myself have used the councils app to complain about our verges and that my lab could dissapear into the grass and the fact it makes it impossible to get to the pooh to bag it up and in fact reported my self for not picking it up, it took a while to get a responce but did get one saying they would cut it on a date in may and no one turned up till the following dinner time and cut it leaving a chunky look now its the same again but sadly my lab has died but i still have 3 other dogs living with our family they are terriers and they dissapearing into the very long grass and the same goes for there poop can not see it so have to leave it. I mean we all pay rates and they should find out who is employing these idiots who dont know how to maintain this mess
[quote][p][bold]Blanche Terraine[/bold] wrote: Who approved the contract being awarded to Balfour Beatty Living Places? Why have they not resigned?[/p][/quote]I myself have used the councils app to complain about our verges and that my lab could dissapear into the grass and the fact it makes it impossible to get to the pooh to bag it up and in fact reported my self for not picking it up, it took a while to get a responce but did get one saying they would cut it on a date in may and no one turned up till the following dinner time and cut it leaving a chunky look now its the same again but sadly my lab has died but i still have 3 other dogs living with our family they are terriers and they dissapearing into the very long grass and the same goes for there poop can not see it so have to leave it. I mean we all pay rates and they should find out who is employing these idiots who dont know how to maintain this mess cjb1958-2012
  • Score: 1

1:19pm Fri 13 Jun 14

DavidP2012 says...

Balfour Beatty Staff were in Westbury Gardens yesterday mowing & working on the flower beds. Are there no sanctions in the contract? Hit these companies in their pockets and they usually respond. Alternatively get radical and bring it back in house...............
.
Balfour Beatty Staff were in Westbury Gardens yesterday mowing & working on the flower beds. Are there no sanctions in the contract? Hit these companies in their pockets and they usually respond. Alternatively get radical and bring it back in house............... . DavidP2012
  • Score: 2

1:52pm Fri 13 Jun 14

MarkSenior says...

Why would the councillors want to destroy all the wild flowers and butterflies and other insects living in the long grass ?
Why would the councillors want to destroy all the wild flowers and butterflies and other insects living in the long grass ? MarkSenior
  • Score: 0

1:55pm Fri 13 Jun 14

acurtain says...

I have complained and complained , email after email, got so fed I also have the wiltshire times coming out on mon/tues. Balfour Beatty should be fined and have there contract taken off them. They are a disgrace.
I have complained and complained , email after email, got so fed I also have the wiltshire times coming out on mon/tues. Balfour Beatty should be fined and have there contract taken off them. They are a disgrace. acurtain
  • Score: 4

6:51pm Fri 13 Jun 14

melkshamwizard says...

Outsourcing may have been a good idea once.but lots of companies have realised the benefits of bringing it back in house.these private companies have shown firms how to run things .therefore seeing as there is a profit to be made take it back in house.
Outsourcing may have been a good idea once.but lots of companies have realised the benefits of bringing it back in house.these private companies have shown firms how to run things .therefore seeing as there is a profit to be made take it back in house. melkshamwizard
  • Score: 3

1:06pm Sat 14 Jun 14

godsake says...

Wilts_born_n_bred wrote:
godsake wrote:
OMG, £250 for 4 hrs work see Bradford on Avon Councillors and other Councillors don't live in real world where the grass cutters get payed the minimum wage for a 40hr week as well as trying to support a young family :( Maybe you should cut the grass more often as you seem to have more time than the working minimum wage person and also your payed by oh guess who lol (the council)
The £250 wasn't for 4 hours work, it was 3 men at 4 hours so 12 hours. In addition to that they have provided their own equipment (petrol mowers and strimmers aren't cheap bits of kit), they have used their own vechicles to arrive at the site, they have had to fuel the equipment, they could go down the lines of not being provided with a uniform and also having to wash said uniform/clothes. Then there is the time spent preparing the invoice and other admin tasks.
If your only concern when pricing a job for an hourly rate is 1 bloke turning up to do it then this might be a contributing factor towards why your earn minimum wage.
So still over £20.00 a hour ;) i suppose a lot less than they get in expensive's from the council :( happy days
[quote][p][bold]Wilts_born_n_bred[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]godsake[/bold] wrote: OMG, £250 for 4 hrs work see Bradford on Avon Councillors and other Councillors don't live in real world where the grass cutters get payed the minimum wage for a 40hr week as well as trying to support a young family :( Maybe you should cut the grass more often as you seem to have more time than the working minimum wage person and also your payed by oh guess who lol (the council)[/p][/quote]The £250 wasn't for 4 hours work, it was 3 men at 4 hours so 12 hours. In addition to that they have provided their own equipment (petrol mowers and strimmers aren't cheap bits of kit), they have used their own vechicles to arrive at the site, they have had to fuel the equipment, they could go down the lines of not being provided with a uniform and also having to wash said uniform/clothes. Then there is the time spent preparing the invoice and other admin tasks. If your only concern when pricing a job for an hourly rate is 1 bloke turning up to do it then this might be a contributing factor towards why your earn minimum wage.[/p][/quote]So still over £20.00 a hour ;) i suppose a lot less than they get in expensive's from the council :( happy days godsake
  • Score: -6

1:17am Sun 15 Jun 14

Toomuch says...

godsake wrote:
Wilts_born_n_bred wrote:
godsake wrote:
OMG, £250 for 4 hrs work see Bradford on Avon Councillors and other Councillors don't live in real world where the grass cutters get payed the minimum wage for a 40hr week as well as trying to support a young family :( Maybe you should cut the grass more often as you seem to have more time than the working minimum wage person and also your payed by oh guess who lol (the council)
The £250 wasn't for 4 hours work, it was 3 men at 4 hours so 12 hours. In addition to that they have provided their own equipment (petrol mowers and strimmers aren't cheap bits of kit), they have used their own vechicles to arrive at the site, they have had to fuel the equipment, they could go down the lines of not being provided with a uniform and also having to wash said uniform/clothes. Then there is the time spent preparing the invoice and other admin tasks.
If your only concern when pricing a job for an hourly rate is 1 bloke turning up to do it then this might be a contributing factor towards why your earn minimum wage.
So still over £20.00 a hour ;) i suppose a lot less than they get in expensive's from the council :( happy days
£20 an hour.

That's ok it was a Sunday, double time!
[quote][p][bold]godsake[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Wilts_born_n_bred[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]godsake[/bold] wrote: OMG, £250 for 4 hrs work see Bradford on Avon Councillors and other Councillors don't live in real world where the grass cutters get payed the minimum wage for a 40hr week as well as trying to support a young family :( Maybe you should cut the grass more often as you seem to have more time than the working minimum wage person and also your payed by oh guess who lol (the council)[/p][/quote]The £250 wasn't for 4 hours work, it was 3 men at 4 hours so 12 hours. In addition to that they have provided their own equipment (petrol mowers and strimmers aren't cheap bits of kit), they have used their own vechicles to arrive at the site, they have had to fuel the equipment, they could go down the lines of not being provided with a uniform and also having to wash said uniform/clothes. Then there is the time spent preparing the invoice and other admin tasks. If your only concern when pricing a job for an hourly rate is 1 bloke turning up to do it then this might be a contributing factor towards why your earn minimum wage.[/p][/quote]So still over £20.00 a hour ;) i suppose a lot less than they get in expensive's from the council :( happy days[/p][/quote]£20 an hour. That's ok it was a Sunday, double time! Toomuch
  • Score: 2

10:03am Sun 15 Jun 14

Mrs Donnyfly says...

I think it is disgraceful that these three Councillors have apparently undertaken this task without being bedecked in the obligatory health and safety armour. Where are the hi-viz vests, safety boots, ear defenders, hard hats etc.? One has to wonder if they skipped the risk assessments and mower awareness classes. For representatives of a body who are usually the most rabid worshippers of the H&S/PC cult they have set a shocking example.
I think it is disgraceful that these three Councillors have apparently undertaken this task without being bedecked in the obligatory health and safety armour. Where are the hi-viz vests, safety boots, ear defenders, hard hats etc.? One has to wonder if they skipped the risk assessments and mower awareness classes. For representatives of a body who are usually the most rabid worshippers of the H&S/PC cult they have set a shocking example. Mrs Donnyfly
  • Score: -4

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