Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Berm policy shift disputed

Residents tell of trouble getting help, while Auckland Transport says it has not backed down.

Chris Mills, who lives in a lawn-free Ellerslie property, has had an ongoing dispute with Auckland Transport  over mowing  the council's berm.  Photo / Richard Robinson
Chris Mills, who lives in a lawn-free Ellerslie property, has had an ongoing dispute with Auckland Transport over mowing the council's berm. Photo / Richard Robinson

Ellerslie resident Chris Mills says Auckland Transport is not being honest by claiming to mow the berms of residents who refuse to do so.

Mr Mills is one resident who refused to mow the berm outside his house in Celtic Ave and was advised by Auckland Transport: "We will not be mowing this berm."

The unemployed 62-year-old said he had lived at his lawn-free property since 1981 and did not want to buy a lawnmower to cut the council berm.

The overgrown grass berm at the intersection of Fir St and Seaside Ave in Waterview. Photo / Richard Robinson
The overgrown grass berm at the intersection of Fir St and Seaside Ave in Waterview. Photo / Richard Robinson

Several approaches to Auckland Transport about the berm, which is encroaching a cracked footpath, have resulted in one letter advising him the berm would not be mowed. The council body now says it will reassess his case based on its policy.

Alfrieda Thompson, an 80-year-old who lives on a corner section in Waterview, is another resident refusing to mow part of her berm and in a stalemate with Auckland Transport.

The pensioner said she was happy to mow the berm outside her legal address at Seaside Ave but not outside Fir St, where the grass is over 50cm tall. Her son, Derek Thompson, said he'd contacted Auckland Transport twice in the past month about the issue, but had no response.

Yesterday, Auckland Transport emailed councillors to dispute a Herald article saying it had "quietly backed down" on mowing berms and had always cut the grass of those who would not, for a variety of reasons, mow their berms.

"This was not an explicit policy as we wanted to encourage behaviour change and we have achieved this in the great majority of cases," communications manager Sharon Hunter told councillors. Ms Hunter said information about mowing berms where residents could not do so, or refused to, was put on the Auckland Transport website late last year.

Yesterday, Auckland Transport changed the website wording on the policy. The words if landowners "cannot or do not maintain their berm" were softened to "are unable or unwilling to mow the grass berm".

Council's kindest cut

Sunday: "If landowners cannot or do not maintain their berm, then Auckland Transport will periodically mow these areas. However, this will be to a lower standard and less frequently than previous services.''

Yesterday: "If residents/landowners are unable or unwilling to mow the grass berm, then Auckland Transport contractors will maintain it, on an as - and when-required basis to keep the grass at an acceptable length. The timing and frequency of this services is at the discretion of Auckland Transport and will vary depending on seasonal growth of the grass.''

- NZ Herald

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