Frustrated councillors say that parts of Aberdeen are “starting to look like a jungle” after the local authority slashed grass cutting in a savings drive.
The ruling Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent administration approved a cut of £653,000 to maintenance around school grounds, roads, cemeteries, community centres, parks and fields in February.
The package of reductions was imposed in an effort to find more than £41 million of savings.
But the onset of summer has now left areas of the city badly overgrown and opposition councillors are now holding the ruling administration to account for the situation.
Infrastructure spokesman for the Liberal Democrat group, Steve Delaney, said: “Some parts of the city are starting to look like a jungle.
“It’s the same everywhere, and it’s all down to grass cutting being reduced drastically.
“I have a lot of sympathy with the grounds staff as these savage cuts have left them with insufficient resources to be do a decent job.
“They get the complaints but it’s the administration councillors who are fairly and squarely to blame for the disgusting state of overgrowth throughout our communities.”
SNP resources spokesman, Alex Nicol, said: “The decision to slash the council’s grass cutting budget is having a massive impact across our city – leaving many areas a complete and utter mess.
“The SNP group did not support these cuts and warned the administration that they would have a devastating impact on the ability of our residents to enjoy the open spaces our city is so fortunate to have.
“The reality is that the administration is obsessed with spending huge sums of money on unwanted projects rather than delivering the basic services that the people of Aberdeen expect.”
Aberdeen Greens co-convener, Guy Ingerson, previously suggested planting wildflowers along road edges to reduce maintenance costs.
He said: “This can save money in the course of a year, and in future years, whilst also benefiting our wildlife and people. ”
Convener of the council’s operations committee, John Wheeler, called for more government funding in future years to avoid the issue becoming a repeat problem.
He said: “We have had to prioritise where we spend money and where we make savings, and some areas may have their grass being cut less frequently.
“Were our funding settlement increased by the Scottish Government, we could reverse some of these decisions.”
Last night a council spokeswoman said that the authority’s “financial constraints” were “severe” and that budgets were focused on the “most vulnerable”.
The Scottish Government has argued that the council’s budget settlement was increased by more than £20 million to £380.6 million this year, and was “benefiting from the Scottish Government’s prudent financial management”.S
Where the axe has fallen
Grass maintenance was just one area the ruling administration imposed cuts upon this year, as more than £41 million of savings were made.
Council bosses, including chief executive Angela Scott, have long warned that budgets will have to continue to be slashed in the coming years due to decreasing grant funding from the Scottish Government.
A new restructure of the authority, called the target operating model (TOM), has been launched to save £125 million over five years.
But opposition leaders have long questioned the spending priorities of the ruling administration – frequently pointing to cost overruns and delays on major capital projects.
Last night an Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said that budgets had to be focussed on “protecting the most vulnerable in the city”.
She said: “The financial constraints the council is operating under are severe – with reduced grant funding coupled with increasing costs and rising demand.
“Our 2019/20 budget focuses on ensuring the best outcomes for individuals and communities whilst protecting the most vulnerable in our city.
“In setting those important priorities, savings in other parts of our operation have had to be found. We continue to carry out our grounds maintenance programme in line with agreed levels of service.”