Overgrown verges get the chop

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TransportNI has carried out grass cutting at a busy road junction in Carnmoney after a local resident voiced concerns about public safety.

The Department for Regional Development’s roads unit carried out the work on Tuesday (July 21) following complaints from Ravelston resident Gavin Chambers.

Mr Chambers contacted TransportNI (formerly Roads Service) about the overgrown verges at the junction of Ballyduff Road and Ravelston Parade, warning that drivers pulling out onto Ballyduff Road had a restricted view due to the long grass and weeds obstructing sightlines.

Speaking to the Times on Friday (July 17), Mr Chambers said: “They come bombing down here (Ballyduff Road) and you’re already low down in the car at this junction so the long grass just makes it even more difficult to see what’s coming. It’s a safety issue. They need to get the sightlines cut before there’s an accident and someone gets hurt.”

The 39-year-old stay-at-home dad said he has no problem with some roadsides being left to grow in a “wild meadow style”, but stressed that driver sightlines must be cut.

He also raised concerns about grass and weeds growing out over footpaths, and up through cracks in kerbs and pavements.

Speaking to the Times on Tuesday (July 21), Mr Chambers welcomed the fact that the grass has finally been cut, but said that it shouldn’t have required him to raise concerns about road safety in order to get the work done.

TransportNI, which is responsible for maintenance of the land, said that budget pressures mean that grass cutting services have been reduced to once a year.

Revealing that “the single cut in the Newtownabbey area will soon be completed”, a DRD spokesperson said: “The Minister has already stated that the department is facing a £60million resource budget pressure in 2015/16, more than half of which will fall to TransportNI. This budget pressure has created an immediate impact on the delivery of routine maintenance services.

“As a result, there is currently no budget available for resource funded maintenance activities such as pothole repair, grass cutting/weed spraying, street lighting repairs etc, although the Minister has decided to allow the department’s internal workforce to provide a skeletal routine maintenance service for these activities. However, he has made it clear that he is doing so at risk, as he cannot allow road safety related maintenance to be stopped.”