Help us cut grass, says Norfolk County Council

Parish and town councils across Norfolk are being asked whether they would be willing to take on services such as grass cutting and pavement gritting from the county council - to save County Hall money.

With the coalition government committed to the Big Society idea and Norfolk County Council needing to save �155m over the next three years, bosses at County Hall hope to save money by persuading parish and town councils to carry out services such as gritting footpaths in winter, grass cutting, fixing signs on minor roads and spraying weeds.

The invitation comes after a review of the council's environment, transport and development department, although bosses say it also reflects a long term plan to make the county council's highway services more responsive to local needs.

Graham Plant, cabinet member for travel and transport, said: 'Like other county councils, we are facing a future with far fewer resources to spend on services, but I hope local councils see this as a real opportunity to make more of a difference in their local areas.

'The county council will be able to fund some of the work, but not everything. Our budgets are going to be under extreme pressure and street scene work of this sort will certainly be squeezed.

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'By taking responsibility for these tasks local communities will be able to set their own priorities and standards, even if that means using unpaid volunteers.

'I hope local people will then feel they have more of a stake in their own roads, paths and verges, and can respond quickly when needed - in wintry weather, for example, when the main road gritting services may be at full stretch.'

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The county council has asked for local councils to register expressions of interest by the end of January, before more detailed discussions are held with a view to new arrangements being in place early in 2011.

However, the council is keen to pilot the use of local councils for gritting pavements over the coming winter and has asked for those interested in doing so to contact County Hall as soon as possible.

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