Meeting documents

Devon County Council - Committee Report

Code No: HCW/14/90

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North Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee

18 November 2014

Grass Cutting in Urban and Rural Areas

Report of the Head of Highways, Capital Development and Waste

Recommendation: It is recommended that the position in respect of highway grass cutting within North Devon is noted.

1. Summary

The report advises of the action being taken by the County to manage grass cutting in Urban and Rural Areas within North Devon.

2. Background/Introduction

At the July North Devon HATOC, report HCW/14/63 was presented regarding the performance of the Urban Grass cutting contractor. It was resolved that a report of the performance of both urban and rural grass cutting operations over the summer of 2014 be presented to the next meeting.

A joint procurement was undertaken for grounds maintenance by Devon County Council, Torridge District Council, North Devon District Council, Barnstaple Town Council and North Devon Homes Ltd in 2013. ISS Facility Services Ltd was awarded the contract via competitive tender. This tender incorporates the cutting of County maintained urban area verges.

County maintained rural verges are undertaken by South West Highways (SWH) as part of the wider Term Maintenance Contract for highway works.

3. Level of Service

All urban highway verges are cut four times between April and September each year.

Rural grass cutting is dependent on the location (visibility splay, inside of bend, verge) and whether a priority or non-priority route.

Full details of urban and grass cutting policies can be found at: and is attached at Appendix I.

4. Contractor Performance

In the 2013 season only three urban grass cuts were made by ISS, this was primarily due to the mobilisation of the joint contract being delayed. The start of the 2014 season was inadequately resourced for completion within the specified contract period; this was the catalyst for the July HATOC report. Since this time, appropriate resources have been delivered by ISS to fulfil the required number of cuts within the cutting season.

Rural grass cutting by SWH has been delivered on programme with a relatively small number of issues reported. On the whole, these issues were as a result of specific problems with traffic management needs, resulting in delays to some works.

5. Management Action

ISS had been advised of underperformance earlier in 2014 and have responded by increasing the resources to meet the requirements of the highway element of the urban grass contract. Detailed reporting of resource allocation and activity has been presented to Devon County Council weekly; close monitoring of the contractor has addressed the underperformance.

Monitoring of the rural grass cutting undertaken by SWH has continued through regular meetings with the contractor, where issues have been discussed as and when they arise. No specific actions have been required.

6. Sustainability Considerations

The cutting of highway verges is essential for the safety of the highway user and contributes to Devon's environmental, social and economic well being.

7. Carbon Impact Considerations


8. Equality Considerations


9. Legal Considerations

The performance of the contractor is defined by terms of contract and due sanction within the terms will be made.

10. Risk Management Considerations

Underperformance of the contractor may present a hazard to the highway user due to reduced visibility at certain location. This could leave the County open to claims from third parties should a collision occur.

11. Options/Alternatives

Grass cutting may be undertaken by the County's term maintenance contractor or be retendered if the performance of the current contractor does not improve.

12. Reason for Recommendation/Conclusion

This report advises of the actions that have been undertaken to address the underperformance of the grass cutting contractor.

David Whitton

Head of Highways, Capital Development and Waste

Electoral Divisions: All in North Devon

Local Government Act 1972: List of Background Papers

Contact for enquiries: Alan Jones

Room No. Civic Centre, Barnstaple

Tel No: (01392) 383000

Background Paper


File Reference



sc/cr/grass cutting in urban rural areas

02 071114

Appendix I

To HCW/14/90