Larne councillors have expressed road safety concerns after being inundated with complaints about overgrown grass along the roadside.
They say that the situation has been particularly bad in the Old Glenarm Road area, where parents collecting children from schools have been forced to pull forward at busy junctions due to the grass obscuring the view from their cars.
Other areas over which concerns have been raised are the Killyglen Road, dual carriageway between the Highways and Millbrook, Blackcave Manor, Ballycraigy Ring, Glynn and Magheramorne.
Councillor Gordon Lyons told the Times: “We have parents of children at Corran Integrated Primary School taking them to and from school who can’t see, and there is a lot of traffic from workers at the Caterpillar site and a number of local developments.”
“We all know the DRD is under pressure, that there are pressures on funds but it is unacceptable that the grass hasn’t been cut.”
Cllr Lyons said that he would like to see the grass in the area cut more frequently by the DRD.
“I’m sure a lot of people ask why the council don’t do the grass cutting instead of the DRD, but I don’t think it’s right that when a central government department doesn’t provide a service we take it on board. If DRD are meant to provide the service they should be doing it.
“The grass cutting has gone down to five times a year to once a year and the DRD need to manage their budged a bit better.
“I would like to see the grass cut more frequently so as not to put public safety at risk.”
Cllr Mark McKinty commented: “There are concerns about the appearance but my main concern would be about safety and I feel the grass should be cut more often.
“The grass is long which is a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians out walking as well as drivers.”
After the Larne Times contacted the DRD, the grass along the Old Glenarm Rd was cut on June 25.
Responding to concerns over overgrown grass, a DRD spokesperson commented: “The grass would have been previously cut last autumn, the grass has grown due to the lack of funding to engage councils and external contractors.
“The urban areas referred to would have been cut five times. The Department is facing a £60 million Resource budget pressure in 2015/16, more than half of which will fall to TransportNI. This budget pressure has created an immediate impact on the delivery of routine maintenance services.”
The DRD also revealed that grass will only be cut once in the six months from early summer to the autumn.
“Currently grass verges and other areas will be cut once, in all locations, between April and October with sightlines at bends and junctions being cut more frequently dependent on direct labour and machinery availability.”
However, Councillor Gordon Lyons says that even when grass is mown, contractors are leaving cut grass behind, which he described as “a big concern as it leaves areas looking messy.”
Cllr Lyons added contractors had told him they “do not have the facilities” to pick up the grass.
A Transport NI spokesperson told the Times: “It is not TransportNI policy to lift mown grass.”
Cllr Lyons responded: “If TransportNI are unable to lift the grass they cut, then they should commit to cutting it more often. The decision made by DRD is unacceptable.”