Hundreds of angry residents across Moray have signed a petition calling for publicly-funded grass cutting in parks to be reinstated.
The council axed the maintenance of green spaces this year as part of £10 million worth of budget cuts – a move that was unanimously agreed by councillors.
But the sight of grass and weeds growing to several feet in length has, however, angered communities across the region.
There have even been fears that locals, visitors and pets are under increased risk of Lyme Disease as the long grass makes it more difficult to avoid ticks.
Yesterday, Moray MP Douglas Ross launched a petition urging the council to reconsider the move amid fears the unkempt parkland is damaging the region’s reputation.
It gained hundreds of signatures within a matter of hours.
Mr Ross said: “The state of these parks and open spaces leaves a lot to be desired.
“The outcome of this budget cut has been that great spaces for people to relax, play in and enjoy have become overgrown.
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“It’s made it impossible to enjoy these places as a result of dog fouling, littering and increased incidents of animals and the public being infected with ticks.
“I have written to Moray Council about this issue many times now and in response I just get told grass cutting is not a statutory obligation and they need to make cuts to meet their budget restrictions.”
Communities across the area have reacted in different ways to ensure the grass in their parks continue to get cut.
Some have raised cash to pay the council to return to priority areas while others have enlisted support from tractors to do it themselves.
Moray Council’s Conservative group backed the reduction in grass cutting along with the other savings for this year’s budget.
However, leader Tim Eagle believes the decision needs revisited due to councillors not being made aware of the full impact at the time.
Council leader Graham Leadbitter said: “The fact is that the reduction in grass cutting has been done to protect other services, including education and social care.
“The Conservatives need to be reminded that just this week we have been told that we need to save another £12million in the coming year. They supported this budget and it doesn’t appear as if they’re offering any alternatives to justify unpicking it.
“The response from communities to replace some of the grass cut by the council has been tremendous, their efforts are greatly appreciated.”