Southend verges and parks areas to be left to grow as meadowland

Some park areas and grass verges in Southend will only be mowed once a year to encourage biodiversity, it has been revealed.

Southend Council’s parks department has announced two areas of Bournes Green Park in Southend, three sections of Friars Park in Shoebury, and the majority of Undercliff Gardens in Leigh, will be left to grow as meadowland to encourage the growth of wild flowers to attract insects.

Grass verges between Stanley Road and Queensway, Southend and Highlands Boulevard and Sutherland Boulevard in Leigh will also be left to grow.

Council bosses say it is part of their work towards achieving net zero carbon emissions, but residents are concerned it may be more to do with cutting costs.

Paul Rabbitts, head of parks and open spaces for Southend Council, said: “We are committed to providing a greener future, and protecting and enhancing the natural environment by working to increase levels of flora and fauna across the city.

“As part of our work to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, we will be looking to naturalise some grass areas in five areas across the city, where this is appropriate. This essentially allows the grass to grow longer and aids growth of wildflowers and plants which will help attract insects, birds and mammals to create vibrant, species-rich environments.”

On grass verges, strips will be cut along the edges of pathways to keep them clear.

The council said it hopes to help reverse the 97 per cent of meadows lost in the last 100 years.

Mr Rabbitts added: “Reducing mowing also allows native plants to flower which provides nectar for bees and other insects. The areas of longer grass meadow will be cut and collected once a year in the autumn.

“This approach helps to encourage the development of flowering species which are so important to our wildlife.”

The scheme has not been discussed with councillors or residents in any public consultation.

Peter Lovett, vice-chairman of Shoebury Residents’ Association, said: “We haven’t heard about this. I think the details should be discussed. We’d want to make sure any picnic areas aren’t going to be spoilt.

“We need to make space for nature but it must be done in a sensible way and it shouldn’t just be about cutting costs.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter