COUNCILLORS have called for more discussion on a rewilding scheme that leaves some areas of parkland and grass verges to grow wild.
Some have been unhappy with this scheme since it was introduced last year, claiming that the verges, which have been planted with wild flowers, are unkempt looking.
As a consequence, councillors will now be able to make representations about their own wards to say if and where they might want wild areas.
At a recent council meeting, councillors voted 24 to 22 in favour of referring the scheme back to cabinet for more consideration.
However, James Moyies, Conservative councillor for Shoebury ward, spoke out against the scheme, saying concerns around weeds and overgrowth were not being taken into account.
He reportedly said: “There’s no point in consultation unless you take into account what people have said and understand the real concerns people have.
“The scheme had stopped dog walkers and children using some areas. We had picnic tables installed and everything was allowed to grow round them.
“In one area in 2019 we planted 100s of saplings. We let weeds grow around them and every one of those saplings were dead. So, we planted more mature trees and they were living and growing well then, we let everything grow around them and overgrow them with weeds and they look to me they are now dying.”
In addition to biodiversity benefits, the scheme has resulted in a £100,000 cost saving on measures undertaken by the parks department.
Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture and tourism, however insisted that the scheme was not motivated by a budget squeeze.
She said: “This wilding process is not a cost saving exercise. It’s a management of biodiversity exercise.
“There are cost savings in the budget and we are able to do that in the way we work and the way the operatives work, doing things into different patterns and doing things in a different way, so there are savings in that respect.
“There is also much more rigour in terms of leasing arrangements for equipment rather than purchasing it outright and letting it depreciate over time.”
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