Council leader calls on tenants to keep gardens tidy

South Tyneside Council leader Coun Iain Malcolm.
South Tyneside Council leader Coun Iain Malcolm.

South Tyneside Council’s leader has called on tenants to keep their gardens tidy citing a rise in “unsightly” overgrown land in the borough.

The call came from Coun Iain Malcolm after councillors heard an update from South Tyneside Homes which revealed weather issues had delayed grass cutting work in early 2018.

Coun Malcolm, speaking at the  East Shields and Whitburn Community Forum, said many gardens are “largely a mess” and called on tenants to do more to help.

He said: “It’s difficult because we can’t evict someone for not cutting their grass. At the same time it’s unsightly and unfair for other residents in the area.

“Tenants have responsibilities as much as they have rights. We need to look at it because it’s a problem that isn’t going away.”

Coun Malcolm, who sits on the forum as a Horsley Hill ward councillor, said a potential solution could involve paying students to maintain gardens during the summer months.

“But it’s unfair doing the gardens of people who can’t be bothered to do it,” he added.

“There’s going to have to be some blue sky thinking with this between officers and the contractors led by the contract panel.”

The meeting heard that several older houses in the borough have larger gardens which can be difficult to maintain.

Forum chairman Coun Alexander Donaldson added “manpower” and “proper equipment” were needed to help tackle the issue.

South Tyneside Homes ‘Handy Estates’ are responsible for weed treatment on hard surfaces in the borough and work alongside other council-contracted  firms.

Glendale Services manage grass cutting and tree maintenance while horticultural firm, Tivoli, deals with garden tidies, shrubs, hedges and roses.

A council spokeswoman added: “We have performance indicators to monitor the grounds maintenance contracts to ensure value for money for residents.

“However, it is important to stress that tenants have a responsibility to keep their gardens tidy.

“We do offer limited garden tidies but this is only to vulnerable people who have no family support to help them manage their garden.”

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service