Council tenants with ‘unkempt’ gardens warned over fines if they fail to keep it tidy

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West Lothian Council has said it will take action against households with unkempt gardens after one councillor claimed messy lawns and buses in Bathgate was a sign that society was “de-evolving”. Labour councillor Harry Cartmill shared his thoughts in the Local Area Committee about the number of overgrown gardens in the area.

Councillor Cartmill said: “One of the things I noticed throughout the town, especially in Glen Mavis, and up where I live, and that’s the amount of gardens in council properties that are unkempt.

“But there’s many beyond that.

“There’s some that have rubbish dumps in the gardens, hedges haven’t been cut, grass hasn’t been cut for years.

“It really brings down the area when you see someone looking after their garden and looking after their property and their neighbour’s house is looking literally like a rubbish dump.”

He said he had lots of complaints about the issue but had also seen it with his own eyes.

Councillor Cartmill continued: “We’re not expecting every garden to look like Beechgrove garden or some of these shows on TV, but just enough that they would cut the grass, keep the hedges down and certainly don’t dump rubbish within the gardens.”

The town’s Housing Manger, Graeme McKee addressed the latest meeting of the committee.

He said: “I would agree. Not to try and put the blame on Covid for everything but part of the estates officers’ role during the summer months is to do walkabouts to identify this.

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“Again, that’s not something that’s been happening over the past two years and we have been replying on people making complaints directly for us to take action.

“I’m happy to say that the estate officers here at Bathgate have been instructed to carry out walkabouts again.

“I’m hoping that this is something that’s going to be picked up a lot sooner and we take identified properties through our garden process.”

Mr Cartmill said: “That’s great to hear. Hopefully that will make a difference over the next year or so.”

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The Housing Manager added that the officers had already started getting out in the ward as working practices began to return to normal.

The Bathgate team is now full staffed and has two new community housing officers.

This is after the team had been understaffed for a number of years.

Andy Johnston from the NET’s team added that tenants would be lettered about issues and asked to tidy up the garden themselves.

If they refuse, the NETs garden maintenance crew would carry out the work, with a charge being added to the tenants’ rent.

This was the system in place pre-pandemic and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped the housing department and NETs could re-establish it.

In the summer months, gardens can be weeded as well as the grass cut weekly.

Flowers can be deadheaded and shrubs can be pruned to help keep the garden maintained.

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