There have been some concerns about the appearance of the grass in some areas of the town this year.

The impact of COVID-19 has set an unprecedented challenge to our work programmes. Some of this can be seen on the growth of hedges and shrubs that we were unable to cut during previous lockdowns because of government restrictions and the need to ensure infection levels did not get out of control.

The impact of the government’s furlough scheme, whilst ensuring jobs are retained, does make the employment of new staff a real challenge. We are actively working hard to catch up and continue to make every endeavour to fill the gap in resources. This challenge has been in tandem with a Spring and Summer that, to date, has seen a regular mix of both warm and wet weather – great for grass growth but hard to keep up with!

This situation is not just the case in Harlow and is echoed throughout councils across the nation.

We have diverted resources to key focus areas, advertised for new permanent staff and are also looking at different models of delivery. As we bring on additional resources, we are increasing rounds for strimming and spraying to improve the appearance of the grass around obstacles, knee rails and benches etc. HTS and Harlow Council continue to focus on reviewing key priorities for the way in which this area of work activity is undertaken to ensure efficient delivery.

Harlow Council and HTS are also taking the opportunity to look at ways in which we can diversify the mosaic of grass cutting to benefit pollinators and other wildlife. It is a fantastic opportunity to challenge work methods to allow for creative and biodiverse solutions to a very complex set of variables.

Harlow Council and HTS are looking at increasing the management of long areas of grass but with an appreciation for the need to maintain managed strips to create visually appealing zones with a wide set of benefits. Recovery of services post-COVID remains a challenge and it is accepted that the visual impact of our green environment is not at our usual standards. We will continue to work hard to recover this position in the coming weeks.

Cllr Alastair Gunn, Portfolio Holder for Environment said:

“I recently held a very positive meeting with HTS to review the current work activity and we identified many common goals and aspirations. There have been some challenging conditions to work through but there is a shared desire to deliver a high quality service to Harlow residents.”

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