Fears that uncut grass verges could embarrass Norwich when the Olympic torch comes to the city

The state of Norwich's grass verges could be an embarrassment to the city when the Olympic Torch passes through next month, councillors have warned.

As part of its efforts to save cash. Norwich City Council has slashed the number of times grass verges are cut from once every two weeks to five times a year.

That has saved �40,000, but Green city councillors say some verges have hardly been cut all year.

They fear it could be embarrassing if they remain uncut when the eyes of the country turn to Norwich when the Olympic Torch comes to the city on Wednesday, July 4.

But leaders at the Labour-run council have insisted they are confident the city will be presented in its best light when the torch does arrive.

The issue was raised at this week's city council meeting by Stephen Little, Green councillor for Town Close ward.

He said: 'Residents and visitors have noted that the management of many verges and other grassed areas around the city has this year not been of the standard they would expect.

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'Grassed areas have just been left to grow long and have neither been cut nor properly managed as wildflower areas.

'This has affected the overall appearance of the city and could be said to be a cause of some potential embarrassment, for instance, ahead of the Olympic Torch coming to Norwich.

'Can the council demonstrate that it will ensure that the contractors fulfil their obligations and adhere to the agreed cutting and management regime?'

Keith Driver, cabinet member for environment and neighbourhoods said where verges are planted with crocuses the grass is normally cut at the end of May and where they include daffodils they will be cut at the end of June, just as in previous years.

He added that, as far as the rest of the verges go, the savings programme meant they had been cut once this year with the second cut due at the end of June.

He said: 'The council is fully aware of the Olympic Torch coming to Norwich and I am satisfied that both the council and our contractor will make sure that the city is presented in its best light.'

• Don't miss the Evening News next Wednesday for our London Calling Olympics preview supplement.

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