Families plead with Sunderland council to keep community ‘respectable’

Plumtree Avenue residents and children are angry over grass not being cut by council.
Bernadine Anderson

Plumtree Avenue residents and children are angry over grass not being cut by council. Bernadine Anderson

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This is a council cut these Sunderland residents desperately want to see.

Spray painted banners have been put on show by families angry over the decision to stop cutting grass outside their homes in Wear View Estate.

Plumtree Avenue residents and children are angry over grass not being cut by council.
Bernadine Anderson

Plumtree Avenue residents and children are angry over grass not being cut by council. Bernadine Anderson

One of the displays has already been wrecked by vandals, with a claim it was set on fire when someone mistook the word for “refuse” with “refugee”, but the defiant neighbours say they will continue to fight for action from Sunderland City Council.

The authority has said the decision to reduce the service is a result of budget reductions from central Government - a response branded a “poor excuse” from one campaigner.

Residents have said they are fearful the area could catch fire, have seen dog owners allowing their pet to foul on the land without clearing up after it and are worried they will be plagued by mice, while children have been left without the area they have loved to play on as their summer holiday begins.

There have also been reports of a flasher using the swathes of grass to hide in.

We understand the concerns of residents’ and share their frustration that we can no longer provide the level of service we once did.

Councillor Michael Mordey

People living in the area are annoyed others, such as Seaburn, Durham Road and Town End Farm are continuing to have their grassed areas cut, and have also launched a petition.

Bernadine Anderson, 55, has lived on the estate for 21 years.

“Residents try to keep it nice and a respectable place,” said the support worker, who works with vulnerable adults.

“They say it’s because of cuts from central Government, but they’ve decided to deny this area over others.

Councillor Michael Mordey.

Councillor Michael Mordey.

“They’ve cut a 5 metre around the edge, but they’ve left the rest overgrown and it’s about 18ins long.

“There’s rubbish in there, it’s horrendous, and it’s so disheartening.

“It’s an insult because in Seaburn, Durham Road area, they get their grass cut, and they’re on major roads through Sunderland, and they’ve probably fully forgotten us, maybe because we’re not as affluent an area.”

She added the council’s explanation over the cuts is a “poor excuse” and believes savings can be made elsewhere in its budget.

Neighbour Freda Hopper, a retired finance collector, and husband Julian, have lived in Plumtree Avenue for 42 years, with their four grandchildren unable to play on the law.

She said: “I’ve complained to the council, it’s disgusting.

“There are cars parked around the back, so the bairns can’t play around there, so they used the grass.

“Hylton Castle and Town End Farm have been done, but not us, and it’s making the estate look terrible.”

Hays Travel worker Wendy Skinner, 42, lives with her sons Robert, 11, and George, 14.

She said: “The area near us, it’s pretty close to the house, you can almost see it outside the front window.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable and I don’t know how it’s been left for so long.

“We all pay our council tax.”

SUNDERLAND CITY COUNCIL RESPONSE

City chiefs have laid the blame for the cutbacks in grass cutting services at the door of the Government.

Sunderland City Council warned as it looked to face cuts of £110million by 2020, which follows on from the £207million cut from its budget during the six years leading up to last autumn.

Council leader Paul Watson, warning people would begin to see services take a real hit, said “Given the level of savings needed, we’re going to have to radically rethink some of the things we do, and this will inevitably impact on the services we provide.”

In the latest move, its parks are now left unlocked around the clock in a bid to save almost £80,000 a year.

Speaking of the decision to reduce grass cutting services, portfolio holder for city services, Councillor Michael Mordey said: “We understand the concerns of residents’ and share their frustration that we can no longer provide the level of service we once did.

“This is directly in response to the level of cuts imposed upon the council by the Government.

“It is not an excuse, it is the reality of the situation we are because of the Government’s imposed austerity agenda.
“We have lost over £240 million since 2010 and simply have no other choice but to reduce the services we provide, as we cannot spend money we do not have.

“I would encourage all communities to come together and work their local ward councillors, to find ways we can continue to work together to mitigate the impact of the Government’s austerity agenda on our local communities.”