Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Council returns to mowing berms in Auckland

Residents who can't cut the grass, or refuse to, will get a trim but contractors can wait until it is 20cm high.

Photo / Sarah Ivey
Photo / Sarah Ivey

Auckland Transport has quietly backed down on mowing berms, but is skimping on the quality of grass-cutting.

After months of controversy and scruffy verges, the Auckland Council's transport arm has resumed mowing berms where residents cannot do so, or refuse to.

But Auckland Transport will cut the grass only periodically, and to a lower standard than previously.

Got some impressive overgrown berm photos? We'd love to see them. Email us here.

Councillors are set to discuss the new stance tomorrow, seven months after voting to save $3 million by not cutting berms in the old Auckland City Council area.

Last night, a spokeswoman for Auckland Transport claimed its stance had not changed and it was mowing berms, albeit to a lower standard.

"It wasn't made explicit, as we wanted to encourage a behaviour change," she said.

The same spokeswoman told the Herald on October 2 that without an exemption it was unlikely berms would be mown by the council.

By December, just 36 exemptions had been approved.

Auckland Transport requires contractors not to let grass grow higher than 100mm and mow the grass within 50mm of the ground on the berms, medians and traffic islands it maintains.

Where residents do not or cannot mow their berms, contractors can wait until the grass grows to 200mm before mowing it to within 75mm of the ground.

The new steps do not go far enough for some ward councillors in the old Auckland City boundaries.

Albert-Eden-Roskill councillor Chris Fletcher said the policy needed reviewing. Former Auckland City residents, who paid to have their berms mown through their rates, were receiving a lower level of service and paying higher rates.

Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer said he planned an amendment for the proper reinstatement of berm mowing, which could be funded from a special $101 million dividend from Auckland Airport, or internal savings.

"The policy has failed dismally and saved nothing. The silliness and constant fighting with the elderly, sick, migrants and those who don't have a lawn mower has to stop," he said.

A paper going to the regional strategy and policy committee on the issue does not have any costings or say if Auckland Transport has met its $3 million savings target.

Onehunga resident Rex McLeod, 62, who told the Herald last October he had never seen the berms look so bad, believed the council should mow everyone's berms.

The council has said extending the same service throughout the Super City would cost an extra $12 million to $15 million a year.

- NZ Herald

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