Ground Maintenance Team Working To Clear Backlog
West Lothian's dedicated Grounds Maintenance team have been working hard to improve our environment.
Grass cutting, weed management and garden maintenance have been partially reinstated over the last few months, after being suspended due to Covid-19.
This allowed staff to be redeployed into essential services such as bin collections, which enabled West Lothian to be one of the few councils who were able to operate a full collection service throughout the pandemic.
The service now has a major challenge to catch-up on three months of work lost due to coronavirus during growing season, and are prioritising tasks to where they are most needed, such as cutting back vegetation that obstructs paths.
This may result in some requests taking longer than normal to be completed.
Executive councillor for the environment Tom Conn said: "Thanks to all the Grounds Maintenance staff who were a vital part in keeping the bin collection service going throughout the pandemic.
"Most have now returned to their regular posts, and are working hard to try and catch up on the essential work.
"However, three months without maintenance means a substantial backlog and we would like to thank the West Lothian public for their patience and understanding while our teams work hard to clear this."
Grass cutting update
The first cycle of cuts were completed on Wednesday 8 July, with the team immediately moving onto the second cycle.
Thanks to all the local groups and individuals who helped maintain their local areas while the team were unable to do so.
The first cut was a real challenge for the teams, with the main objective purely to reduce the height and complete the cycle as soon as possible.
The second cycle should produce a better standard of cut, and please see the table below for the proposed cycle of cuts for each community.
The volume of grass and the fact we are unable to collect it may mean some areas do not look as tidy as some residents may wish.
The total amount of grass cut across West Lothian is just short of 6,000,000 square metres, made up of thousands of plots, all of differing sizes. This is the equivalent of 1,200 football pitches and we do not have the resources to lift this volume of grass.
To allow us to lift this huge amount of grass, we would need to buy significantly more machines capable of lifting grass, hire additional staff to operate them, additional vehicles to remove waste material and pay fees of approximately £35 per tonne at recycling centres.
This would be a huge additional cost to the service and would not be possible at a time when public sectors budgets are not growing in line with demand.
Weed Management update
A limited number of teams have been working on weed management, concentrating on road/path channels and other hard surfaces.
These teams will be prioritising schools from Monday 20 July in advance of pupils returning on 12 August.
This is because:
- Playgrounds and grass areas are likely to be required to provide additional space to comply with any physical distancing guidelines.
- With the level of weed growth, we can deliver the service more efficiently while the schools are closed, which means unobstructed access to schools
The teams will resume work on roads/paths in the remaining areas when all schools have been completed.
Garden Maintenance update
A limited garden maintenance service will re-start from Monday 20 July.
Additional staff have been recruited and trained this week to allow this to take place for the approximately 2,300 gardens in the scheme. No new applications are being accepted this year.
All gardens will be strimmed on the first cycle, as the machinery normally used will not cope with the longer grass length at the moment.
As with the open spaces, the objective will be to reduce the height of grass and complete the first cycle of cuts as possible, so we will not be collecting the grass on the first visit.
Grass will be collected as normal from the second visit onwards, and residents should be aware it may take several cuts to get their garden back to its usual condition.
Grass Cutting Draft Timetable
Broxburn & Winchburgh
East Livingston & East Calder
Houston Ind Estate
28 -29 July
Fauldhouse & Breich Valley
Whitburn & Blackburn
27 July - 1 August
Armadale & Blackridge