A tourism chief believes Moray Council’s decision to reduce cutting grass will leave visitors with a negative impression of the region.
Grass and weeds have been growing to several feet at some popular parks and public areas in towns and villages across the county since the local authority imposed the cost-saving measure in February.
Some important areas deemed to be significant tourist draws, such as beside Elgin Cathedral, were cut last week but the problem persists in most parts of Moray.
Laurie Piper, the managing director of Moray Speyside Tourism, has now called on council chiefs to re-instate regular maintenance after fielding various complaints from the area’s hospitality firms.
He said: “Given the hard work tourism businesses have put into growing the value and popularity of Moray as an ideal holidaying destination, I am extremely keen to make sure the perfect image of Moray is maintained as far as it can be.
“One of the ways to do that is to re-instate grass-cutting within the region.
“We’ve had complaints from tourism businesses and we are supporting the communities in their efforts, but wish that they did not have to be doing this.
“We want visitors’ overriding memory of Moray to be as a beautiful, well-cared for region and we believe grass-cutting is crucial for this.”
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An online petition launched by Moray MP, Douglas Ross, has gathered more than 1,000 signatures – with paper copies now being distributed to shops.
Mr Ross hopes that the ongoing support will persuade the local authority into a rethink.
He said: “It’s clear that this is one of the most talked about subjects within Moray at the moment and I would urge more people to support the petition to reinforce our opposition to the lack of grass cutting.”
Council leader, Graham Leadbitter has ruled out any change of approach and commended the members of the public who have helped out by cutting the grass in public areas themselves.
He said: “The fact is that the reduction in grass cutting has been done to protect other services, including education and social care.
“The response from communities to replace some of the grass cut by the council has been tremendous, their efforts are greatly appreciated.”