Express & Star

Long grass and wildflowers around Stafford divides opinion

The state of the grass in the grounds of one of Stafford’s landmarks has divided opinion among borough councillors – with one welcoming the wilder look and another concerned about the conditions.

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Wildflowers growing on the bund off Eccleshall Road, Stafford

Councillor Aidan Godfrey spoke of a "deterioration" in the grounds of Stafford Castle. But Stafford Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure has said the conditions have been appreciated by canine visitors to the site – as well as wildlife.

Freedom Leisure, which runs leisure and cultural services including the castle and visitor centre on behalf of Stafford Borough Council, has had to furlough the majority of its staff during the lockdown period.

But the council’s Streetscene service had been to Rowley Park to carry out grounds maintenance ahead of the partial reopening of the site in April.

Councillor Godfrey, speaking at the virtual resources scrutiny committee meeting, said: "I would like to ask about the standard of grounds maintenance of Stafford Castle and Rowley Park at the moment. There has been a deterioration over a period of time.

"Is the cabinet member for leisure happy with the way the contract is being serviced? If she isn’t, what is she going to do about it?"

Councillor Carolyn Trowbridge, cabinet member for leisure, responded: "I have had a walk around Stafford Castle and Rowley Park today and both are looking lovely – so green. My dog loves long grass and it has been wonderful.

“I have enjoyed having long grass over the castle – not everybody wants every bit of grass cut to two millimetres above the ground. Stafford Castle is an area that should be more natural in my view.

“Streetscene have been amazing in getting Rowley Park up to scratch. There was a lot of work because it had been left for so long.”

Another area of town that has received comments is Holmcroft, where wild flowers have been growing on the bunds created to stop unauthorised parking on green spaces along Eccleshall Road and Holmcroft Road.

Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for environment, said: “We put the bunds in and they were pretty unsightly. In the summer months they look absolutely fantastic.”

Councillor Marnie Phillips suggested natural areas could also be left around the edges of some parks.

Councillor Godfrey said: “I’m all for biodiversity but let’s not get away from the fact it is cost-saving.”

And Councillor Jill Hood, who has been involved in wildflower sowing schemes with Stone in Bloom, said: “I have a dog who loves long grass. With long grass come ticks, so I’m not a supporter.”