A petition has been launched to sack Wokingham’s grass cutting contractors.

Over the past few weeks, neighbours have been complaining about overgrown grass patches and bushes throughout the borough, but particularly in Earley and Woodley.

Recently, the grass cutters have swung into action to cut overgrown areas, which have in some cases obstructed footpaths.

Wokingham Borough Council’s executive member for environment and the council’s grass cutting contractor Tivoli Group Ltd have both apologised for the lack of progress in cutting overgrown grass and bushes in the borough.

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A petition has been set up calling for Tivoli’s contract to be scrapped and grass cutting to be brought back under the control of the borough council.

In full, the petition states:  “We the undersigned petition Wokingham Borough Council to determine the Contract with Tivololi Group Ltd, and to bring the service back in house.

“The contract with Tivoli Group Ltd is not working. The public spaces in Wokingham are a disgrace. Their business model simply does not work for Wokingham. This petition demands that Wokingham Borough Council determine the contract with Tivoli Group Ltd and bring the service back in house in order to provide council taxpayers with the service they are paying for.”

Bracknell News: Overgrown grass in Regent Close, Lower Earley. Credit: UGCOvergrown grass in Regent Close, Lower Earley. Credit: UGC

The petition was set up by Dennis Goodlad, from Winnersh, who told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I launched this petition because I was appalled by the seeming total collapse of the grass cutting service in Wokingham.

“It has got progressively worse since the service was outsourced to Tivoli Group. If they delivered a service in accordance with the contract it wouldn’t be so bad. However, their business model seems to be based on hiring casual labour on a seasonal basis – and it simply is not working here in Wokingham.”

So far, 11 people have signed the petition. Neighbours have until Monday, October 18, to sign the petition.

You can sign the petition here.

Tivoli is contracted to maintain and cut grass in parks and open spaces, highway verges, play areas, cemeteries, sports pitches and tennis courts, grassland and wildflower areas, and also near some ponds, lakes and watercourses.

Overgrown grass and bushes in home gardens and private land are the responsibility of the homeowner, landowner or the tenant, not the council.

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The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Tivoli for a comment in response to the petition, but the firm has not responded.

Previously, Spencer Rock, Tivoli’s chief operating officer in part blamed ‘aggressive’ grass and bush growth for lack of progress in this year’s cutting operations.

Mr Rock said: “We are very proud of our partnership with Wokingham Borough Council and are committed to delivering a quality service which everyone can be proud of, however we acknowledge our grass cutting performance isn’t where we’d expect it to be at this stage.

“Unfortunately, this season has proven undeniably difficult so far. Firstly, we’ve seen an unprecedented grass growth rate – around 60 per cent more aggressive than last year, and the flush experienced in late May and early June is the most extensive we’ve seen in 20 years.

“There is also a nationally recognised shortage of labour for many sectors including grounds maintenance, which has impacted the contract heavily.”

Bracknell News: Bushes obstructing a footpath in Woodley. Credit: Anne Ronan HyattBushes obstructing a footpath in Woodley. Credit: Anne Ronan Hyatt

He went on to apologise and expressed a commitment to ‘rectify the situation as quickly as possible’.

Tivoli’s other clients include the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, English Heritage and Arun District Council in West Sussex. It recently won the Presidents Award in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Health and Safety Awards 2021.