Birmingham council has dismissed claims it has run out of lawnmowers - despite being 'inundated' with complaints about overgrown verges and parks.

Councillors from across the city have been receiving complaints over the past few weeks about uncut grass, with Councillor Majid Mahmood taking to Twitter to share some images of the affected areas.

This has led to claims from some councillors, including leader of the Conservative group Cllr Robert Alden, that a lack of equipment is behind the apparent abundance of uncut parks and verges.

Uncut grass in Birmingham, after claims the council did not have enough lawnmowers.
Uncut grass in Birmingham, after claims the council did not have enough lawnmowers.

Why is this happening?

Last year the Labour group took the decision to bring grass-cutting services 'in house', meaning that Birmingham City Council would take responsibility for the service instead of outsourcing to other companies.

However Cllr Alden says that a failure to act in time to procure the appropriate equipment has resulted in the current state of affairs.

“The decision to bring the grounds maintenance service back under council control was taken in June 2018 but they did not bring forward plans to purchase the equipment until the December, at which point it was already noted that they would not have enough time to get equipment in time for the expiry of the current contract," he said.

"This has then been further compounded by an apparent failure to even follow those already stretched timescales, with a decision on the equipment to be purchased not being taken until 27 March 2019, one day before the existing contract for the service expired.

"The council wants to mow its own grass but apparently didn’t think it necessary to have the mowers to do it.

Uncut grass in Birmingham, after claims the council did not have enough lawnmowers.
Uncut grass in Birmingham, after claims the council did not have enough lawnmowers.
 

"Their rush to ‘insource’ a service to appeal to their left wing base has meant they have failed to properly plan for a smooth transition and left the city overgrown. This is not only unsightly, it attracts rubbish dumping, it prevents people using the green open space properly and in some cases can create safety issues by obscuring views at road junctions.

"The council now needs to come clean about what has gone wrong, when it will get all the equipment and how it intends to put it right."

Complaints received

Cllr Mike Leddy is another who says he's received complaints from residents about the lack of upkeep across the city.

Taking to Facebook, he said: "Birmingham City Council has allocated all grass cutting for parks and highways to a new in house contractor, which is great news.

"However they don't have any grass cutting equipment, which is why our verges aren't being cut.

Uncut grass in Birmingham, after claims the council did not have enough lawnmowers.
Uncut grass in Birmingham, after claims the council did not have enough lawnmowers.
 

"How ridiculous can you get? Someone needs to be taken to task over this.

“It’s a fiasco. The cabinet should be challenging the officers over this, instead of letting councillors across the piece find out because they are getting complaints from residents asking why the grass verges haven’t been cut.”

What does the council say?

Responding to the criticisms the council has insisted that it does indeed have the equipment needed, with a report showing the purchase of 90 mowers and tractors for the city.

In a statement, they said: "There was a slight delay because we did need some additional equipment (mowing machinery, tractors etc) but this could not be procured until the service came back in-house.

"People should start to see grass cutting taking place across the city from this week onwards. It’s also worth noting that the number of grass cuts per year has been reduced from 12 to 10 (this was in our 2017/18 budget) and cuttings will take place every three weeks."