Great North Run route is growing wild

COMPLAINTS ... Coun Lee Hughes and Michael Joyce, resident of John Reid Road.
COMPLAINTS ... Coun Lee Hughes and Michael Joyce, resident of John Reid Road.

GRASSED-off residents living along the route of the Great North Run in South Tyneside warn the area is running to seed because of a controversial wildflower scheme.

People in John Reid Road, South Shields, are annoyed about the height of a council wildflower scheme outside their homes.

Some say the overgrown greenery will be a poor advertisement for South Tyneside during next month’s Great North Run, the world’s biggest half-marathon, which is watched by thousands of TV viewers throughout the country.

Coun Lee Hughes, for the Bede ward, has received 18 e-mails from people in John Reid Road and nearby Peel Gardens, all complaining about the state of green areas near their homes.

Michael Joyce, 52, who has lived in John Reid Road for three years, said: “I think it’s disgusting. We’ve never seen the grass so tall and all the wildflowers have just been allowed to grow too tall.

“This will not look good if people see this during the Great North Run, as the runners pass right along John Reid Road.

“Maybe the council will only cut down the grass and wildflowers because of the run.”

Mr Joyce said that neighbours have also warned that the wildflower scheme outside their homes is also attracting vermin and litter.

“There’s one man along here who said he had mice coming into his home from the meadow, which had never happened before,” Mr Joyce added.

Last year, cash-strapped South Tyneside Council adopted a policy of creating 17 wildflower meadows in the borough – saving up to £300,000 a year on its annual maintenance and grass-cutting bill and creating wildlife-friendly grassland. But the green policy has sparked a large number of complaints from residents throughout South Tyneside, all claiming the wildflower meadows are overgrown and unkempt.

Coun Hughes said: “I have had 18 e-mails from people in John Reid Road and Peel Gardens, all complaining about the long grass and the state of the wildflower meadow.

“The grass was eventually cut in Peel Gardens, but the meadow is still really high along the John Reid Road, which is very public and won’t look very good on Great North Run day, on September 7.

“There has been nothing but negative feedback about the wildflower scheme, but I have had little response when bringing this up with the council.

“Basically, I’d like to see South Tyneside Council going back to square one and keeping the area looking nice and tidy.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We will be reviewing this area in the coming weeks as part of our preparations for the Great North Run.

“The wildflower meadows scheme was introduced last year as one of the ways of managing our green spaces for the benefit of residents and wildlife.

“It is part of a move towards a more environmentally-friendly maintenance regime, which provides a vital nectar source for threatened bees and butterflies, as well as strengthening the food chain for birds and mammals.

“It is also helping to make efficiency savings from the annual cost of maintaining seven million square metres of grassland.

“As originally planned, all of the wildflower vegetation across the borough will be cut down and removed in the late autumn and a review will take place to inform next year’s approach.”

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