Appeal to maintain hedgerows

Appeal to maintain hedgerows

3 August 2022

A LEADING government department has been asked to improve roadside maintenance after a local politician branded the appearance of overgrown hedgerows across the district as an “embarrassment”.

Slieve Croob councillor, Alan Lewis, met recently with business owners from the Clough and Seaforde areas to discuss concerns around the issue.

He said the district is hugely popular with visitors over the summer months in particular, with those in the business community concerned about the impression untidy and unkempt roadsides portray.

“It is unfortunate that basic maintenance is being ignored,” declared Cllr Lewis.

“Driving from Ballynahinch to Newcastle, you could be forgiven for assuming that the Department for Infrastructure had embarked upon a so-called wilding project, with grass and weeds well over two-foot high in places. The area looks untidy, wild and out of character, with many neat and well-kept villages along what is a busy tourist route.” 

Cllr Lewis said he is fully aware that budget restraints have impacted upon the roads department’s maintenance schedule, but argues there is no excuse for the current state of the area. 

He described the current park and ride facility in Clough as “resembling a jungle” with rubbish having been allowed to accumulate which attract vermin.

Cllr Lewis continued: “Frankly, the situation is embarrassing. As a district, we are seeking to encourage active and healthy communities, but young mothers tell me they have avoided going on walks as they can’t manoeuvre the pram through the obstacles of overgrown grass, nettles and brambles. There is also a risk of children getting hurt. 

“These are bread and butter issues, but all politics is local and these are doorstep issues that should be part of basic roads maintenance which, unfortunately, has been lacking.”

Cllr Lewis confirmed he has raised his concerns and those of the business community and local mothers with local roads officials, asking why Down District is being “ignored” when it comes to maintenance issues.

He added: “Has the new Sinn Fein Infrastructure Minister at Stormont taken his eye off the ball, determined to show that without an Executive, the system falls apart? Basic roads maintenance should not be ignored.”