Jury is out in ‘Your Waverley’ on No Mow May…June…?



And no, we’re not talking Fifty Shades – we’re so over E L James & Christian Grey!  The Jury is out  on TO MOW OR NOT TO MOW the parks and open spaces in ‘Your Waverley.’

A bit like Marmite – you either love watching the Borough’s parks, open spaces and verges being left uncut to bloom …  or, you hate not being able to get a clear view of oncoming traffic at junctions – and sneezing all the way to the chemist, with streaming eyes, trying to pick up a packet of antihistamine.  

One sceptic in our ranks believes it’s just a ploy to save money – perish the thought!

Here at the Waverley Web, the environmentalists among us love seeing poppies and daisies but are also incredibly concerned that Ragwort is running rampant.

Although the plant provides a sea of gold along verges it contains toxins called pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These, in sufficient quantities, can cause liver poisoning in horses and livestock. It is a cumulative poison that eventually leads to the rapid onset of symptoms before death.

What is the law relating to Ragwort?

Under the Weeds Act 1959 (WA 1959), Ragwort is classified as an ‘injurious weed’. If Ragwort is growing on land that you occupy, the Secretary of State has the power under the Act to serve a written notice on you requiring you to take such action as may be necessary to prevent the Ragwort from spreading, within the time specified in the notice.

The rest of us – with streaming eyes and runny noses – cannot wait until the mowers are out and the pollen settles. We thought it was only for a month, but on the 19th of June, we haven’t spotted any tractors mowing – have you? If it continues much longer the verges will be meeting each other and we’ll all need to be driving 4x4s to – or combine harvesters – to plough our way around the Borough! As for our lawns, we tried locking up the mower but, now after all the rain, we need Aidan Turner – with his ripped chest and muscular abs -in Poldark mode, scything our lawns!  Pass me a fan someone, I’ve come over all hot and bothered – or is it just another hot flush?!

Waverley Borough Council joined the ‘No Mow May’ challenge,  organised by wild plant conservation charity Plantlife which encourages people to say no to mowing during the month.

In addition, and as part of the Council’s pesticide policy and action plan, there will be manual removal of weeds from hard surfaces, playgrounds and other areas rather than the use of a herbicide.  Er, has anyone told the Council Tax Payers of the Borough about this heavy reliance on manual labour?

Councillor Liz Townsend, Waverley Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Parks & Leisure, said: 

“As a council working towards becoming carbon-neutral by 2030, one of our pledges was to review our grass cutting regime and promote rewilding, so we fully support this fantastic initiative.  It will give our green spaces time to flourish and boost the numbers of wildflowers that provide valuable food for pollinators.  

“Everyone can get involved, whether that is locking up the mower for the month, or just leaving a patch of lawn uncut.”

Waverley Borough Council has already enhanced a number of areas over the past year, including increasing meadow and wildflower areas to over 183,000 mto improve biodiversity and help pollinators –  that’s over 45 acres or 24 football pitches or 146 Olympic size swimming pools, it’s bigger than the grounds of Buckingham Palace and has the potential to be home to millions of insects.

The Council has also put in place a reduction in the number of pesticides used, with a trial of non-pesticide weed control having been started last year in some areas of the Borough. In addition, the council’s grounds maintenance contractor, Continental Landscapes Ltd, (We have to ask if the Council considers it entirely PC to be employing a company called ‘Continental Landscapes’, following Brexit?  What’s wrong with good old Blightly in Bloom?)  took delivery of three new electric vehicles at its Waverley depot last year, meaning lower vehicle emissions and less noise when undertaking the maintenance.  All grass cuttings and prunings are composted and used on Council sites, with the surplus offered to local allotments and community gardens. 

For more information about the ‘No Mow May’ challenge and to find out how you can get involved, visit the Plantlife website.

NB.  To hire Aidan Turner and his scythe, call his agent – not The Waverley Web!



3 thoughts on “Jury is out in ‘Your Waverley’ on No Mow May…June…?”

  1. I love seeing the wild flowers on the verges. I do not love picking up after Pip in the long grass, it is beyond difficult but if it isn’t done some child is going to be taking some of Pip home, much to his/her parents displeasure!

  2. Hi everyone. We had so much feedback on this and I know Liz T did too. In the main it was positive and most understood what we were trying to do.

    Lots of this trial and the subsequent feedback are so we can learn a few things for next time. Including:

    – where works really well for this and where does not work well
    – that we need to signpost better that we have done this so residents don’t think it’s just been left (I.e blue heart type sign).
    – advance warning on social media and in the press from the council

    We also need to raise awareness about highways because lots of the issues reported by residents were actually highways having not cleared things rather than it be a Waverley/No Mow May thing.

    And as to cost, yes it would have been a very minimal saving but of course we just had the contractors go and do other useful things anyway.

    Happy as always to take questions.

    Cllr Paul Follows
    Leader, Waverley Borough Council

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