Berm mow­ing change wel­comed

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KARINA ABADIA

Knee-high grass in res­i­den­tial ar­eas should be­come a thing of the past with Auck­land Trans­port com­mit­ting to reg­u­larly mow un­kept berms.

Con­trac­tors will main­tain berms on an as-and-when-re­quired ba­sis to keep the grass at an ac­cept­able length in cases where res­i­dents are un­able or un­will­ing to mow it them­selves.

Auck­land Trans­port spokesman Mark Han­nan says un­kept berms are likely to be mowed ev­ery six to eight weeks. But this does not rep­re­sent a change in pol­icy, he says.

Orakei coun­cil­lor Cameron Brewer dis­agrees, call­ing it a back­down.

‘‘The mayor adopted a cold tur­key ap­proach last year by ceas­ing berm mow­ing in the isth­mus sub­urbs from July 1 to sup­pos­edly save $3m.

‘‘It’s great news that some san­ity has now pre­vailed af­ter a lot of ratepay­ers’ money and staff time has been wasted fight­ing frus­trated res­i­dents,’’ Mr Brewer says.

Maun­gakiekie-Ta­maki coun­cil­lor Denise Krum agrees.

‘‘The ser­vice was just cut. At the very least they should have gone to the polls to find out if peo­ple still wanted it as part of their rated suite of ser­vices.’’

She thinks ev­ery lo­cal board should have the op­por­tu­nity to de­cide on whether fund­ing from the an­nual plan should be spent on berm mow­ing.

In a re­gional strat­egy and pol­icy com­mit­tee meet­ing on Fe­bru­ary 4, Mr Brewer’s amend­ment to sup­port ‘‘the back­down’’ was passed unan­i­mously.

At the same meet­ing coun­cil­lors Mike Lee and Chris­tine Fletcher’s amend­ment to have the coun­cil’s berm pol­icy re­viewed be­cause of pub­lic con­cerns was lost 12 to 7.

Opin­ion was also di­vided on whether plant­ing on berms is ac­cept­able.

Ms Krum voiced op­po­si­tion to the fact that some coun­cil­lors have planted gar­dens on their berms, call­ing it a ‘‘hill­billy ap­proach’’.

‘‘You’ve got coun­cil­lors ad­vo­cat­ing for plant­ing corn, flax and flow­ers. If you’re go­ing to open up the box for plant­ing green­ery of all sorts then why can’t peo­ple start park­ing there cars there? If one thing goes, why can’t any­thing go?’’

Al­bert-Eden-Roskill coun­cil­lor Dr Cathy Casey says this at­ti­tude is ‘‘ridicu­lous’’.

There are two berms in front of her Mt Al­bert prop­erty; one be­tween the bound­ary and the foot­path and a larger one next to the road.

The grass against the wall is very hard to ac­cess even with a weedeater, she says.

She has sown wild­flow­ers in the grass against the wall which should bloom in the lat­ter part of the year.

Un­til then she in­tends to reg­u­larly mow the berm.

‘‘We are very hope­ful that come spring it will be a riot of colour next to the wall,’’ she says.

She has not asked per­mis­sion from Auck­land Trans­port be­cause she has done noth­ing wrong, she says.

But pri­vate plant­ing in the road cor­ri­dor is gen­er­ally not per­mit­ted be­cause it can pose a safety risk or may dam­age pub­lic prop­erty, Mr Han­nan says.

For in­stance if plants grow too high it can be dif­fi­cult for driv­ers, cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans to see.

The roots of some plants can also cause dam­age to un­der­ground in­fra­struc­ture such as sew­ers, power ca­bling and gas lines, he says.

Guide­lines around what peo­ple can and can’t plant would mit­i­gate th­ese is­sues, Dr Casey says.

‘‘You should be able to plant low ground flow­ers maybe even some veg­eta­bles. It’s a pro­duc­tive thing to do to get peo­ple in­volved in the berms so in­stead of just berm mow­ing it’s foot­path gar­den­ing.’’

Cre­ative so­lu­tion: Al­bert-Eden-Roskill coun­cil­lor Dr Cathy Casey has sown wild­flow­ers in a berm against her bound­ary wall in an ef­fort to ‘‘beau­tify the berm’’.

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