THE COUNCIL’S grass cutting team is “ahead of the game” as it prepares for this year’s grounds maintenance work.

This comes after the council was forced to produce 12 recommendations for its grass-cutting team because a lack of resources led to many of the borough’s grassy patches becoming “unloved” last summer.

Peter Fry, Area Manager of Tivoli, Wokingham Borough Council’s grass-cutting providers, said: “We are ahead of the game this year. We’ve put actions in place this year and we’re already ahead on recruitment, machinery, servicing and basically ready to go.

“We’ve already done a little bit of cutting this week, so we’re already ahead of the game compared to last year.”

Cllr Lindsay Ferris had called the grass-cutting services “pathetic” at a meeting late last year after councillors heard WBC had received more than 300 complaints from residents during a difficult summer period for Tivoli.

And at a meeting on Wednesday, February 21, Cllr Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey said: “Even though the grass was being looked at, it was still about three or four foot high in some places.

“I spoke to several people who literally lost their dogs in this mess.”

The council’s 12 recommendations are now being acted on by Tivoli after the management overview and scrutiny committee reviewed Tivoli’s efforts from last summer at a meeting late in 2018.

A report produced for the council outlined that Tivoli, which cuts more than 4 million square meters of grass across the borough, are making “good progress” against the suggestions.

Tivoli will have three more full time employees than last year, with a “larger pool of resources” and machinery that will be “strictly” only be used in Wokingham borough.

The organisation has invested £1 million in phone technology which will allow its workforce to update its progress and fill out forms on the go.

Tivoli representatives said it would typically take grass-cutters 45 minutes to fill out necessary forms after completing jobs but it is expected the technology will halve the time taken to do this.

Nigel Payne, regional director of Tivoli, said the introduction of this technology will mean workers are available sooner “to go on to other work.”

He added: “It will help us plan and map operations around effective and productive grass-cutting.”

Residents will not be able to use this app and communicate directly with grass-cutters, but Mr Payne told councillors Tivoli would be open to developing its micro-sites where residents can leave comments going forward.

Borough residents will however be able to visit Tivoli’s website – which will document where grass is expected to be cut in the coming weeks and months – but it will not feature exact dates for when its workforce will be deployed.

Tivoli will provide councillors with regular updates moving forward and Peter Baveystock said: “We have a schedule where if there is slippage, we’ll be able to update members that we are a few days late coming to this area and put in on the website.”

The council is set to meet with Tivoli representatives again in June to scrutinise how the grass-cutting team is progressing with its work.

Cllr Shahid Younis said: “What is going to be crucial is how efficiently we monitor this as we go along.”