As part of my efforts to adopt a poorly managed bit of local verge, I’ve taken two approaches.

First, I emailed my local ward councillor who also happens to be Southwark Council’s Cabinet member for Highways and the Environment and asked for her support. I’ve chased for a response twice but received nothing to date.

Second, I sent a complaint to the Council about the over-mowing, because I know they’re required to respond to this. I got a reply from them today as shown below. If I’m understanding this right, it’s saying that the verge in question is actually the responsibility of the “local housing office” rather than the “cleaning” team (both delivered in-house in Southwark rather than contracted) even though it is the cleaning team who actually mowed it and are responsible for other verges. It is great to hear from Chris that my complaint led to a site visit and his commitment to protecting the local environment. I’ve gone back to him to check I’ve understood his reply.

Seems like one of the fundamental problems here is that looking after verges is seen by the Council as “cleaning”.

Hi Amanda

Thank you for your recent email and photo received on the 8th of October 2020 regarding the cutting of the grass verge, on the corner of Crescent wood road, the area in question does not form part of our scheduled works and is cut as a curtesy, when out team visits the site.

I have had my Grounds Maintenance supervisor visit the area this morning and he has confirmed to me that the area has grown back and will not be cut again this year.

I fully support community involvement and also encouraging and protecting the local environment, unfortunately it is not for me to hand over the grounds maintenance duties to individuals, but there are grants and schemes you can apply for that may help in your pursuits. The council is currently running the cleaner greener, safer, scheme. This is a scheme that encourages local individuals and community groups that have ideas on how to protect and encourage the natural environment and to also promote community spirit, by granting funds for areas that the individual or group feels that may benefit from these ideas. Details can be found on the council website; http://www.southwarkcouncil.co.uk or you could contact your local housing office who will be able to direct you to who to contact in regards, to maintaining the land.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

Chris White (South Area Cleaning Manager, London Borough of Southwark, Waste and Cleaning, Unit 2 57 Sandgate Street, London, SE15 1LE)