Fed up Aberdeen residents could take concerns over new wildflower meadows, allowed to grow in city parks, to safety authorities.
Billed as an attempt to boost biodiversity, grass cutting has been halted at eight spots around Aberdeen.
But those living nearby have raised concerns about a lack of consultation on the change, which they claim has denied children room to play and others green space to catch their breath – and claim the move is nothing more than disguised cost-cutting.
Areas in Stonehaven Road, Garthdee Road, Riverside Drive, Skene Road, Riverside Drive and Riverview Drive have been left to grow wild as part of the initiative.
Raeden Park, Eric Hendrie Park, Fernielea Park and parts of the Old Machar graveyard at St Machar’s Cathedral are more overgrown too.
Fernielea Park safety concerns as grass cutting stopped
And now, disillusioned residents are complaining that the long grass – taller than some adults – is dangerous, as well as unsightly.
Concerns have been raised around the safety near the Denburn running through Fernielea, which is now hidden in the thicket.
Fears have also emerged that the long grass is providing more opportunity for tick bites – and with them, the risk of Lyme disease.
Davie Milne claims “disturbed” residents using the space for walking have already noted an increase in the number of the bloodsuckers they are having to remove from their pets and themselves.
He said: “If the council don’t change their mind, there will be a major problem.
“We will have to look at getting the Health And Safety Executive and Scottish Environment Protection Agency involved.
“Where we got our photograph taken, we are one step away from the burn which is behind 4ft high grass and not visible.
“Recently a dog fell in having been running through the grass, it was fine – but had it been a child, God only knows what could have happened.
“It is now at a critical point that the council assists to put this right and back to a safe place to go and walk before it is all lost.
“Will the council accept responsibility if someone gets Lyme disease?”
He also compared a small circular space of cut grass at Fernielea to a “prison exercise yard”, claiming park users were expected to just do laps of the mown circle.
“It beggars belief that we are being told this is not a cost-cutting exercise,” he added.
Dozens of wildflower species spring up as grass cutting stopped
Aberdeen City Council praised the initiative earlier this month, revealing 80 species of wildflowers had been found in the new natural areas.
Species listed include northern marsh orchids, buttercups, hawkbits, dandelions, scentless mayweed, ox-eye daisy, meadowsweet, cow parsley, bugle, sorrel, red clover, white clover, birds-foot trefoil, a few species of attractive flowering grasses, nettles, rosebay willowherb, and greater willowherb.
The local authority is cutting paths through the burgeoning jungles, which in the main will only be cut once or twice a year.
We previously reported Raeden residents were battling with dog waste lost in thick bushes, with concerns the area near North Anderson Drive would become a “wasteland”.
Questions raised over who is making the decisions over grass cutting
Meanwhile Councillor Bill Cormie, whose Midstocket And Rosemount ward includes Raeden, is hitting out at the decision-making around the move.
Although it forms part of the authority’s Climate Change Plan to lower carbon emissions, he thinks people should have been consulted on the changes near their homes.
“I am on the operations committee and that is where these sort of choices should be made,” he said.
“This seems to be cost-cutting through the backdoor but who has given the go ahead for it? Who is making the decisions?”
Aberdeen City Council said ticks were also present in its parks, especially those by rivers and among trees.
A spokeswoman reaffirmed that the new wild areas were not brought about by a drive to save money, instead being planned to help nature.
She added they were being “monitored closely as a partnership project”.