Officers from Environment and Commercial Services will be in attendance to discuss the topic of Prevention of Damage to Grass Verges in Middlesbrough.
RECOMMENDATION: that the Panel determines whether further information is required.
Officers from Environment and
Commercial Services were in attendance at the meeting to discuss the topic of
Prevention of Damage to Grass Verges in Middlesbrough. A slideshow of photographs of examples of
grass verge damage that had been submitted by Middlesbrough Councillors was
shown to the Panel.
It was acknowledged that damage
to grass verges was a problem and the original layout of houses, housing
estates and some of the road network in Middlesbrough had not been designed to
cope with the increase in car ownership.
Many households owned two or more vehicles and the demand for available
car parking space had risen.
The natural solution to
combatting damage to grass verges was to remove them completely or replace them
with parking bays. However, the funding currently available was not
sufficient to accommodate the level of demand for action. The total budget for Highways Projects was
approximately £1.3 million a year which was used for carriageway resurfacing, street
lighting, bridges and structures, traffic signals and flood relief. About £200K of that budget was allocated to
grass verge repair or replacement.
In 2020, when the Scrutiny Panel
last investigated this topic, there were 328 outstanding requests from
Councillors and residents on the work schedule, which were prioritised
according to the Council’s approved methodology. Currently, in 2022, there were 347
outstanding requests for works which would cost approximately £5.25 million
pounds to complete. On a positive note,
20 schemes had been completed in the last 2 years.
Unfortunately, in the Council’s
current financial situation, increasing the budget for grass verge maintenance
could only be considered at the detriment of other work such as road or pavement
repairs which were also in high demand.
Under current legislation it was
not an offence to park a vehicle on a grass verge unless it caused an
obstruction, there were waiting restrictions on the road, or there was a local
byelaw in force. Heavy Goods Vehicles
were however prohibited from verge parking.
There were a range of enforcement powers available to the Council but it
was highlighted that enforcement tactics could lead to vehicles being parked
elsewhere and causing further issues.
Enforcement activity was also resource intensive.
Stockton Council had been
successful in using Community Protection Notices (CPNs) to tackle grass verge
parking. Middlesbrough Council had also
introduced CPNs in March 2021 but they had not been used to date for that
purpose. Both the Community Safety Team
and the Environmental Enforcement Team had been trained to issue CPNs. CPNs were issued to deal with the
unreasonable behaviours of individuals that negatively impacted on the local
The process involved assessing
the damage to grass verge and then proving that the behaviour of the motorist
was unreasonable and detrimental to the locality. Photographic evidence of the driver of the
vehicle was also required, since breaching a CPN was a criminal offence. Two warnings would be issued initially, a
removal notice would be posted on the vehicle and then a CPN warning. If no action was taken by the vehicle owner,
a CPN notice would be issued requiring the motorist to comply with the conditions
stated in the notice. If the notice was
not complied with, a Fixed Penalty Notice could be issued or a fine. Offenders could also be charged for the cost
of any repair works to the damaged verge.
It was highlighted that
Middlesbrough Council’s Highways Team inspected damaged grass verges and took
photographic evidence. Car owners’
details were obtained from the DVLA and the Council would send a warning letter
asking them to desist. This approach was
generally positive. Repeat offenders
would be targeted with a further letter letting them know that the Council
could re-charge them for any repairs that were required. A suggestion was made that Councillors could
be informed of individuals causing an issue in their wards, however it was
clarified that releasing individuals’ details would be a breach of data
protection. There was however potential
for a reporting system via the Council’s website.
Members discussed the following
It was acknowledged that tree
planting could be an option on selective roads, in consultation with Ward
Councillors. It would be vital to ensure
that the species of tree selected was suitable and would not cause other
problems such as damaging the pavements with roots. Other considerations were that utilities were
often buried under grass verges and that visibility on the highway should not
The Panel was informed that the
Council had tested the plastic grid option in Thorntree Cemetery and it was not
significantly cheaper than hardening treatments. The channel still had to be dug out and the
grass did not grow through it. Litter
could also become trapped in it making it unsightly.
In relation to the suggestion of
implementing one way traffic in narrow streets, it was clarified that a Traffic
Regulation Order would be needed. As
part of the green agenda and the move towards more electric cars, Officers were
currently looking a solutions for charging points on roads with terraced houses
which could impact on the availability of parking space. One idea was to use lighting columns as
With regard to pavement crossings
it was confirmed that house owners could apply to the Council to have a
crossing installed to provide vehicle access to their garden/driveway if
required. All costs would have to be met
by the house owner.
It was generally agreed by Panel
Members that there was not a single affordable solution to the issue of damage
to grass verges. Different solutions
could be applied to different areas.
Some Members were also of the view that residents should not be
prosecuted for parking on grass verges where there was nowhere else available
to park in the vicinity without causing an obstruction. Similarly, where motorists deliberately
caused unnecessary damage, it was felt this should be addressed.
AGREED as follows:
1. that the information provided was received
2. an invitation be extended to a representative of Thirteen Housing to a future meeting to explore other ways of addressing the issue of grass verge damage.