Charges are unwarranted

Sir,

So finally the Three Valleys Housing grass cutters have arrived in our area.

This being after over six months have elapsed since the last cut in September 2011.

This being the longest time to have elapsed since the inception of grass cutting in this area.

Previously done by Erewash Borough Council a few seasons earlier at a cost of 50p, to trim a tenant’s lawn plus a further 50p to tidy a border and or trim the hedge.

I know this because following an accident at work for two seasons I had to avail myself at this service, and the work was of a superb standard.

Following the takeover of Three valleys Housing in 2002 and the move to Mark Street, whilst the new offices were being built at Bramley Road, Long Eaton, a government grant was awarded to update Cotmanhay.

The amount was £50m of which about £42m was used to upgrade the area starting from the Hedgrerow Bungalows on what was known as Pavilion Road, which was phase one.

From 350 properties about 110 were demolished for parking and garage spaces leaving about 240 tenancy properties.

During the makeover, all bushes, shrubs and hedgerows were uprooted and replaced by wooden fences and grassed areas.

A survey taken at the time showed that 87 per cent of the grassed and lawn areas adjacent to each property for cutting purposes was referred to as non-rent related, as we do not in fact rent the lawns or grassed areas from Three Valleys Housing.

The garden and area charges are mistakenly referred to as rent, as a collective amount, when annual statements are issued.

The point of this statement is that the Three Valleys grass and area charges are made over a 48 week period.

The first charge at the inception being £3.79 weekly, yet cutting such as it is takes place every two weeks this doubles the cost per visit.

The cost charge for that first season was £181 for less than one hour of cutting time per property.

This charge caused anger and disbelief and as many tenants cut the lawn themselves and have done so for many years.

These facts were mentioned in the Advertiser at the time. The cost has now been reduced, however, even at a little over £2 per week over 48 weeks charged.

A survey taken of the work done, in fact filmed and timed, last season is as follows.

Of the 87 per cent grassed areas previously mentioned and still apply, the Three Valleys Housing cutter walking takes 12-14 seconds to cover the width of the lawn area, faster when using the sit on machine.

At most it takes three minutes of cutting time.

At most there are 14 visits per season, this works out as, at most 42 minutes per season per tenancy.

Calculated, this means the work costs around £100 per hour for our 48 week season.

Given that there have been six months since the last cut of September 2011, it has been stated that the six month charges made with no winter work done in this area with no greenery as previously stated.

Over four years it is an unwarranted extraction of tenants’ finances.

This latest grass cutting leaves a lot to be desired left in a very shoddy state with dandelions in full flower still evident and clumps of cut grass left uncollected.

Three Valleys housing do not in fact cut all of the grass in the area as the roadside verges and some of the wider side lawns are still cut by Erewash Borough Council and they make a decent job of it.

Yet in the latest Contact newsletter Three Valleys Housing tell us they are keeping costs to a minimum and providing a first class service.

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