Bat­tle of the berm

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JOE DAW­SON

HAVE you given in and mowed your berm yet?

If you were hop­ing Auck­land Trans­port might give you an ex­emp­tion, you could be out of luck.

More than 160 peo­ple claim­ing they can’t mow the the grass verges out­side their prop­er­ties for health rea­sons have asked for as­sis­tance from Auck­land Trans­port – but only eight have met the cri­te­ria.

It was back in July that for­mer Auck­land City res­i­dents learned they’d no longer see coun­cil con­trac­tors mow­ing the berms.

Auck­land res­i­dent Al­lan Spence has been keep­ing his berm neat and tidy but says oth­ers on his street are not – and they’re low­er­ing the tone for ev­ery­one.

One of his el­derly neigh­bours says she is not fit enough to mow her berm her­self and can’t af­ford to pay some­one to do it.

At 76 Mr Spence says he is happy to look af­ter his own berm but is not up to tak­ing on any­one else’s.

He has com­plained to Auck­land Trans­port but had no re­sponse.

‘‘It’s just ap­palling, it’s like a hay­field,’’ he says of one par­tic­u­larly over­grown spec­i­men. ‘‘The owner tells me she’s too old and too poor to do any­thing about it.

‘‘It’s got now to a stage where it’s be­yond the ca­pa­bil­ity of an or­di­nary mower.

‘‘At the end of the day I’m just an­gry that no­body seems to be able to do any­thing about it.’’

He says the num­ber of peo­ple be­ing knocked back for as­sis­tance is ‘‘ter­ri­ble’’.

‘‘I as­sume all those [re­quests] are gen­uine so what do they ex­pect peo­ple to do? A lot of those peo­ple are el­derly or frail. Some peo­ple might be able to take up the slack but oth­ers just can’t do it.

‘‘It seems ridicu­lous es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the money be­ing spent else­where.

‘‘I think the pol­icy should be very much more re­laxed so it’s easy to make ar­range­ments to have them mown, and not have peo­ple like me go through an in­ter­minable bat­tle to keep the city tidy.’’

Auck­land Trans­port says it will con­sider look­ing af­ter berms in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions in­clud­ing if they are steep, in front of un­oc­cu­pied prop­er­ties and caus­ing a traf­fic hazard or in town cen­tres.

The agency will also step in if there are ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances but re­quires a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate that ver­i­fies the need.

Oth­er­wise peo­ple are asked to be ‘‘good com­mu­nity cit­i­zens’’ and take pride in their neigh­bour­hoods.

Spokesman Mark Han­nan says feed­back on the pol­icy has gen­er­ally been pos­i­tive.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously some peo­ple have com­plained but they are very much in the mi­nor­ity.’’

He is aware of neigh­bours step­ping up to help those who can’t mow their berm.

That is the case for Bal­moral res­i­dent Jim Silva who says a heart con­di­tion makes get­ting the berms done on top of his own lawn im­pos­si­ble.

‘‘I haven’t been mow­ing my berm, it’s all I can do to mow my lawns and I can’t do them all in one go,’’ the pen­sioner says.

‘‘But the neigh­bours have of­fered their son and they seem happy to do it.’’

Photo: JOE DAW­SON

Gone feral: Al­lan Spence says it should be eas­ier to get help mow­ing berms like this one.

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