Council’s parks contractor is ‘surprised that the grass grows’

A Croydon councillor has today criticised the council’s parks contractor, saying that Quadron has been “surprised that the grass grows”.

Lloyd Park in the spring sunshine, with hawthorn blossom and lush grass. Quadron will get round to mowing the areas where grass needs cutting eventually

Lloyd Park in the spring sunshine, with hawthorn blossom and lush grass. Quadron will get round to mowing the areas where grass needs cutting. Eventually

Many of the borough’s parks and open spaces have not undergone a routine grass cutting over the spring. But this is not some ecological experiment to try to turn the Purley Way Fields into a wildflower meadow, nor is it part of the council’s cost-cutting strategy by reducing the number of cuts of the grass on the roadside verges and council housing estates. According to Carole Bonner, a Labour councillor for Fieldway ward, “Quadron are massively behind” in their work.

As with some many aspects of the council’s tasks and functions, maintenance work in Croydon’s parks and open spaces was outsourced some time ago, apparently as a cost-cutting (if not grass-cutting) measure.

But there have been gathering complaints about Quadron’s performance, or lack of it, as the spring and early summer has seen the grassy areas in the borough’s 120-plus parks and open spaces allowed to grow. And grow. And grow.

“The contract means grass should be cut when it gets to 5cm,” Bonner today told residents of Fieldway and New Addington wards, which are surrounded by exceedingly green and lush public open spaces.

“The picture is the same right across Croydon. Every Quadron team is behind or under-staffed to do the job,” the councillor said.

Carole Bonner: 'amazed' at Quadron's ill-preparedness

Carole Bonner: ‘amazed’ at Quadron’s ill-preparedness

“Extra crews have been working at weekends and out of hours. They have even sub-contracted some work. Yet the mix of cuts (tractor, mower and strimmer) doesn’t seem to be in sync either.”

The council’s much-reduced in-house staff whose job it is to monitor Quadron’s performance are working to ensure that the grass doesn’t grow under the contractor’s feet, and poor performance penalty fines seem certain. Whether the penalties will match the money Quadron has saved by under-staffing seems unlikely.

“It’s amazing that a landscape contractor is surprised that the grass grows,” Bonner said.

Anyone with complaints about the maintenance of the council-run parks or open spaces should contact, and copy-in their local councillors as well as

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This entry was posted in Carole Bonner, Croydon parks, Environment, Fieldway, Lloyd Park, New Addington, Quadron, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Council’s parks contractor is ‘surprised that the grass grows’

  1. farmersboy says:

    In Quadrons defence they have cut bits of Purley Way Playing Fields. We were trying to work out their seemingly random cutting pattern the other day walking the dog. The next day they’d cut a different unconnected bit so it looks a bit like the patchwork design premier league teams adopt – except with long patches

    • Undoubtedly, the wet spring has set-back Quadron from any schedule of cutting work they might have had. But hey, it’s southern England in early summer. You might have expected to have a management prepared to deal with such contingencies.

  2. You have got to remember that there is a massive central procurement team of highly paid “experts” in Fisher’s Folly under procurement expert Nathan Elvery, ensuring that value for money is obtained and contracts effectively monitored.

    That’s worked well then.

  3. You write that “this is not some ecological experiment to try to turn the Purley Way Fields into a wildflower meadow, nor is it part of the council’s cost-cutting strategy”.

    Why not? Why the obsession with cutting grass so that any wildflowers that might be growing are beheaded and insect life that depends on them is wiped out? Fair enough if it’s a bowling green or sports field or play area, but the over-frequent manicuring of other grassed open spaces is neither necessary nor a good use of our council tax. Paying a contractor to do a job that isn’t really needed is a waste of money and shows a hidebound mentaility of simply doing things because they’ve always done it that way.

    I’d like to see the Council’s “clean and green” champions pushing back on this fixation and replacing it with one based on charity Plantlife International’s excellent guidelines for managing road verges to benefit wild flowers and other nature. To find out more and join their campaign, please click on this link It allows you to send a message to Croydon council asking for a (mowing) regime change.

  4. Agree wholeheartedly with what you have written Austen. A glorious wildflower meadow planting can be seen in Mitcham town centre, and a relaxed form of grass management certainly is paying off in terms of variety of flowers and a wilderness look to places like West Norwood cemetery. Our urban green spaces need to be maximised for the amount of lifeforms they can support to counteract the rapid development of urban housing going on all around London.

  5. farmersboy says:

    I can’t post pictures here but I’ve taken some of the random grass cutting on Purley Way and it’s not for a wildflower meadow as they’ve cut down the bluebells /tulips /whatever the flowery bit was. The argument is, if you’ve paid to get a tractor to a site, why take 3 days coming back and forth cutting bits and not finishing the job

  6. I am very late to this topic but want to support Austen Cooper on this topic. I am a regular user of the Purley Way Playing Fields. I was very amused by Quadrons grass cutting techniques. I grow up on a farm myself so was not adverse to John Deere drying and grass cutting for annual hay making. I suspected that the grass cutting had been hampered either by mechnical failure or bad weather. So when after a week, the tractor failed to reappear, I had thought that Quadrons were seeing options for cash making for the lucrative horse stables market. I expected that by mid July I would see a John Deere baling machine harvest the hay. But over the weeks of July/August the grass continued to grow into a lush English wildflower meadow. It looked like the Quadrons were trying to compete with the wildlife project in Roundshaw Downs successfully managed by Old Surrey Downs Project. The diversity of clovers and wild grasses was most welcome. My wee Yorkie dog loved dancing through the long grasses.

    So by accident, Quadrons contributed to a rich wildlife diversity project. Now in October the football posts are back up and the grass is back to the correct levels. I propose that in 2017 this wildlife management scheme continues

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