Options appraisal to look at future grass cutting service
Grass cutting in Skye and Lochalsh is to be brought in house from next year and the Council is to carry out an options appraisal to allow members to decide how future grass cutting will be carried out in the rest of the Highlands.
Grass cutting and burial ground maintenance forms part of the Council’s Amenity Services which also includes war memorial maintenance, management of public conveniences, play park maintenance and burial and cremation services.
The Council currently contracts out 60% of grass cutting of amenity grass whilst the Service maintains the remaining 40% in-house.
Contracting out the service was prompted by the need to cuts costs and the tendering exercise enabled a £600,000 recurring saving in the budget. Current contract costs are some £1.34 million per year.
Members of the Community Services Committee agreed that the contracted amenity grass cutting for Skye and Lochalsh should be brought in-house from April 2017, within the existing budget of £136,000.
Members agreed that fully costed options should be worked up to look at bringing amenity grass cutting in-house across the rest of the Highlands.
Chair of Community Services, Cllr Allan Henderson said: “There is a desire across all parties to bring grass cutting in-house, as well as improve the standards in all areas. We need to remember that £600,000 has already been cut from the Amenity Services budget, and savings of this magnitude will always have an impact on reducing levels of service and standards. We are also affected by the weather and the fast growth this season, as well as reduced resources.
“The decision to bring the grass cutting for Skye and Lochalsh in-house is something we can work with as an excellent pilot to move forward with. It is important that we look at fully costed options for the future for all areas, as well as the impact on jobs, and this will also give us a chance to engage with members local about local expectations.”
A report on future options will be brought back to the Community Services Committee in November 2016, which will also consider any other small areas which could be brought in-house.