Taxpayers across Fife are being short-changed as budget cuts leave patches of land uncut and unkempt, it has been claimed.
Councillor Dave Dempsey, the region’s Conservative group leader, has said local accountability has – almost literally – been lost in the long grass following Fife Council’s decision to slash the budget for grass cutting and weed spraying by 30%.
His claim comes as the local authority faces growing complaints about the apparent lack of maintenance in areas across the kingdom, ranging from untidy roadside verges to overgrown grass in graveyards.
Mr Dempsey said decentralisation is the best way to tackle such issues, highlighting the state of the grass at the council-maintained car park in Regents Way in Dalgety Bay.
“No individual is to blame here, council officers are doing what they’re instructed to do,” he said.
“Nevertheless, the basic problem is clear and easy to fix. Budgets are allocated centrally and the prime instruction to budget holders is ‘don’t overspend’.
“What the public get for the money is a secondary consideration.
“The solution, which the Fife Conservatives first put forward nearly a decade ago, is for budgets to be vested locally, so a council officer who knows the area and who will work closely with local councillors and communities can allocate the ever scarcer resources to what the public really wants.
“Do that and the grass that needs cut will be cut when it needs it.
“But it won’t happen until we get a political administration whose actions match their words.”
The Courier revealed last month how visitors to St Drostan’s Cemetery in Markinch were left brokenhearted about the cemetery’s sorry appearance amid gripes about the long grass, deep potholes in paths and roads, and sprawling weeds.
Andrew McCubbin, from Bankhead Farm in Kinglassie, said hay growing at the side of the B921 Kinglassie to Glenrothes road will soon obscure road signs and is causing problems with visibility at the C33 and B922 junction.
“Vehicles driving down the slip roads from Golf Course Road are invisible and while it seems other roadsides in Glenrothes are on their third or fourth cut since March, this road has been untouched – a bit like last year also,” he said.
“Then when they do decide it needs baled they will have to pick out all the motorist litter at the same time, because that hasn’t been collected this year also.”
Ken Gourlay, head of service at Fife Council, said: “The areas identified will be looked at, as road safety is a priority. If verges are creating a safety issue they will be dealt with.
“This is the height of the growing season and the council is dealing with numerous requests for work to be done and our grounds staff are doing what they can under the circumstances.”