Councillors slammed the company responsible for cutting Wokingham’s grass at a meeting on Wednesday, November 21.

Many neighbourhoods in the borough saw grass patches become “unloved” in 2016 and 2018 due to Tivoli – the landscaping company employed by the council – failing to have the correct resources in staffing, machinery and knowledge of the area.

Councillor Lindsay Ferris said: “We had the problem 2016, and it improved in 2017 and then in 2018 it got awful. That is the great frustration.

“I think we have got to be clear with the areas which are where people use as a social area which are the greatest problem.

“It was pathetic the way that they performed.”

The council’s management overview and scrutiny committee collected evidence from residents outlining the effects of Tivoli’s service over the last three years.

Some claimed the grass was “knee-high”, which led to residents suffering from asthma and hayfever because of increased amounts of grass pollen, as well as an surge in litter and dog mess hidden away in the grounds, and more ticks inhabiting the long grass.

A report produced for the committee showed the council received 314 complaints from residents in the first quarter of 2018, who were unhappy with how the borough’s grass, hedges and shrubs were being maintained.

The council received 201 fewer complaints from residents in 2017.

Those unhappy with the council’s service named the problem ‘grassgate’.

The council approved a report demanding changes to the authority’s relationship with Tivoli in the coming years.

The executive are set to approve recommendations made by the committee, including more meetings between the council and Tivoli, to review the contract between the groups, that new technology is installed to deliver more information on cutting schedules and more.

Councillor Shahid Younis called for better communication between Tivoli and residents.

He said: “We need to look at how we can better communicate.

“It comes up again and again. It is quite simple to do, it needs to be like real time.”

However councillor Ian Pittock told the committee: “Different people have different perceptions about what the requirement is. We need to agree what the schedule should be area by area.”

A report produced for the council told how the council visited neighbouring authority Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) to learn about its relationship with its landscaping contractor.

Wokingham Borough Council officers heard how BFC’s grounds maintenance team carries out weekly inspections at various sites in the borough, daily contact takes place between the contractor and the council and the authority carries out a monthly contract meeting between the two parties.

An officer’s report commented: “It was felt that the grounds maintenance service in Bracknell Forest was of a good standard. The client team and contractor had developed a positive working relationship which was evidenced by the high number of compliments and the low number of complaints received each year.”

The council is set to approve the recommendations at the executive meeting on Thursday, January 31.