Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The long, long grass of home

Our rural grass-cutting teams have reported this year’s grass growing rate is the highest they have seen it in 36 years on the job. This is the result of the current weather conditions of heavy rain showers with intermittent warm sunshine which has led to ideal growing conditions. You can almost see the grass grow in front of you.

Cabinet member for transport, Mark Shaw says:
“Transport for Buckinghamshire will always work to ensure visibility is not affected; we take safety very seriously and our guys work throughout the summer to keep cutting back that long grass which may affect road users’ view of the road. However, grass which is not imposing on visibility, which is growing at this amazing rate, may inevitably lead some road sides to look a little shabby! We must prioritise work which is essential in keeping the roads safe, and to preserve our resources some grass cutting which would be considered cosmetic has to be left as it is. At least we have a lush, green countryside to enjoy for the summer months!”

Grass cutting: where, when, and why
Grass cutting is undertaken primarily for safety reasons; to ensure that forward visibility requirements for road users are maintained. Rural cuts take place twice a year and, in general, a one metre swathe will be cut adjacent to the road, with wider areas cut at junctions, inside bends or other areas where additional visibility is required.
Urban grass cutting takes place at more frequent intervals. The four scheduled grass cutting runs for 2016 are as follows:
Cut 1 – 4th April – 15th May
Cut 2 – 16th May – 26th June
Cut 3 – 27th June – 14th August
Cut 4 – 15th August – 2nd October
Some grass cutting has been devolved to parish councils
Many of the parishes in Buckinghamshire have signed an agreement to take over responsibility for a number of County Council activities, including their own urban grass cutting. Transport for Bucks will retain responsibility for rural grass cutting within all parishes, and also for cutting grass on central reservations. To see if your parish has adopted devolvement, check the list on our website, by clicking here.
FAQs about grass cutting
Q. Why are grass clippings not removed from the cut area?
A. The clippings are relatively short and rot down quickly, which slows down re-growth. Raking up, loading, transporting and disposal of grass cuttings would increase the cost by twelve times. We make sure, however, that grass cuttings are not left on adjacent roads, pavements, driveways etc.
Q. Do you cut grass in all rural areas?
A. Not in all rural areas, as it is simply not practical. Apart from sight line areas, we only cut a one meter wide strip next to roads. Embankments and steep slopes will not be cut unless they are directly next to road whilst verges will be cut on either side of pavements.
Q. I have a grass verge outside my property which I like to maintain myself. Is there anything I should do about this?
A. We are aware that some people like to cut the grass near their home. You should be aware of the possible risk of injury to yourself, passing pedestrians and traffic. For more information, please contact us.
Q. Why has the edge been cut but not the middle of the grass and vice versa?
A. Our grass cutting operates in teams of 2 or 3 operators and consists of 1 ride-on mower operator, and 1 or 2 strimmer/blower operator/s. Due to the speed of ride-on mower, the strimmer/blower can often be behind. The time between these two operations occurring may be a number of hours. For example you may have seen the main grass cut during the morning but the edges and the sweeping or blowing may not be carried out until the afternoon or early the next day. Please wait at least 24 hours before contacting the Council with your concern as the contractors may well be en route already.
Q. Why has this area been missed?
A. There are many reasons why areas may have been missed but some of the most common are listed below; There are some areas that are deemed as missed but in reality it is simply that there has been a growth spurt in the 4-6 week gap between cuts. Areas where daffodil and tulip bulbs have been flowering will be left uncut for at least 6 weeks after the flowers have finished as this is a horticultural requirement. The cutting will be carried out during the next round after this period of time. Where the contractors pass areas that appear to be maintained they may decide not to cut the area again. If you would like the contractors to cut the grass please do not cut the area yourself and it will be picked up during the next round. Some areas may suffer from standing water and during severe wet weather periods may only be partially cut. We will cut as much of the area as possible leaving other areas that are too wet and impossible to cut without causing excessive damage. It is best practice to cut as much as possible rather than to leave the entire site uncut. If you think an area has been missed, please call our contact centre and provide the exact details of the area using the nearest property address. The information will then be sent to the relevant department.
Q. I think that the quality of the cutting is poor. Why is this? Will they come back?
A. We do try to cut to a certain specification set out in the grounds maintenance contract. However, there are issues that can impact on the quality of the cut as noted below;

  • Scalping – On occasions, where there are uneven ground levels, a tyre of the mower can dip down causing the blade to scalp over lumps or slopes of uneven ground. This is not intentional and often cannot be helped. Over time these small areas will regenerate.
  • Tufts/uneven grass – long grass may cause difficulties with machinery. You may see tufts or ridges of longer grass. This is due to the wheels of the machine pushing the long grass flat as they pass over. Once pushed flat it may be missed by the blades. Unfortunately this cannot be prevented when dealing with long grass so the team takes steps to ensure the programme is on schedule to avoid this happening wherever possible.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Bring on the improvements! TfB launches £16 million summer works programme

Yesterday, 8th June, Transport for Buckinghamshire and transport cabinet member Mark Shaw were out and about on the highway to launch the summer programme of works that we’ll be carrying out on the roads and pavements. We’re now two months in to the new financial year, but the number of road works schemes carried out during the day are set to increase in the coming months. Mark Shaw explained:
‘Where possible, works are scheduled to take place overnight in an effort to minimise disruption. However, to really make progress our guys do have to be out there working on it during the day too.
We’re spending roughly £16 million on improving the roads and pavements this coming year, and we hope that very soon the residents of Buckinghamshire will start to see the good results of the 200-plus schemes we’ve got on the to-do list!’

The launch event was a chance for Mark, along with deputy Paul Irwin and some members of the press, to see the work in action and learn a bit more. The scheme in question yesterday was a one-and-a-half mile stretch of Peters Lane, between Princes Risborough and Great Hampden, where contractors are patching damaged sections of the road before surface dressing the whole stretch.
In coming months, approximately 68 miles’ worth of roads will be treated as part of the summer programme – that’s a stretch long enough to stretch between the northernmost and southernmost edges of the county. However, with a road network of 1,900 miles, choosing which roads to prioritise is a big job.  The roads on this summer’s programme have been selected based largely on local priorities, but safety is always the most important criterion. Data on road surface condition, which is gathered on a regular basis using condition surveying, is the biggest factor in ensuring that the roads most in need of treatment get seen to as a priority.
So look out for our hi-vis teams out on the roads this summer, working on making the roads smoother, safer, and generally nicer to drive on. We are grateful for the patience of the public while we carry out these essential road improvements.
The three types of road surfacing explained:
Surface dressing – the most cost-effective way to extend the life of a road, that hasn't deteriorated too far. It restores skid resistance and seals cracks to stop water seeping under the surface. It protects the road against the majority of severe winter weather damage. 

Micro-surfacing – a fast, effective and economical way to preserve and protect the surface, used where a full depth reconstruction is not needed. The surface, ready for use just hours after application, improves skid resistance without producing loose chippings, fills small cracks, and smooths bumps.
Re-surfacing – replacing the whole surface where it is so badly damaged, micro surfacing or surface dressing won't be effective. It involves removing the worst affected areas of the road surface and laying new hot bituminous material.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Berkeley Homes A4 Bath Road Works | Update for road users and residents

Berkeley Homes have issued the below statement to update residents of Taplow and Maidenhead about their works on the A4 Bath Road. (TfB) 
Berkeley would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused during the ongoing highway improvement works along the A4 Bath Road between Taplow and Maidenhead.

The works include the construction of a new roundabout and creation of a new pedestrian crossing and cycleway which forms part of the highway improvements within the wider redevelopment of the former Taplow Papermill and Skindles Hotel. The wider development includes the creation of 199 new homes, new Skindles restaurant, commercial office space, improved areas of open space and a new pedestrian footbridge crossing the River Thames to Boulters Lock.

We appreciate that our works are one of the contributing factors to the current delays experienced by motorists along the A4. In an attempt to alleviate the congestion and improve the traffic flow through our works we have introduced the following measures:

1.       The traffic lights will only be used outside of peak hours between 9.30am and 3.30pm Monday to Friday and 8am and 6pm at the weekend. The use of traffic lights will be kept to a minimum for the remainder of the works.
2.       Improved courtesy signage to provide a more advanced warning for motorists whilst apologising for any delay suffered.
3.       A Traffic Marshall will be dedicated to the Mill Lane junction to ensure no additional queues are caused by cars or trucks turning off or onto the main A4. We will also be getting additional signage to ensure motorists keep both the Mill Lane and Ellington Road junctions clear whilst waiting in any queue at the lights.
4.       We have optimised the timing delay of the signals and will further monitor the queue lengths in each direction along the A4 so to keep traffic more freely flowing at different times of day.

We would like to reiterate that our contractors are doing their upmost to minimise disruption and maximise the flows along the A4 whilst getting the work completed in a timely manner. We are trying to get the works done as quickly as possible and are currently on programme to have the roundabout works substantially complete and the road fully re-opened by the end of June. This might leave some landscaping and minor works still to be completed but this should not have an impact on traffic.

For the weekend of the 11th and 12th June traffic lights will be in operation in order for the final surface to be laid. As such despite the measures detailed above, there is likely to be some lengthening of journey times. There might also be unforeseen construction problems which may delay the removal of the lights. As such it would be advised to avoid the area or allow more time for journeys.

The above works, working hours and traffic management strategy has been agreed working closely with Transport for Buckinghamshire’s Roadspace Management team.

We hope the above improves the situation for motorists. However, if anyone has any further concerns or queries regarding our works, please contact Caroline McHardy on 01753 784400 or email

Thank you for your patience whilst we complete these works and again, please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, said: “We have regularly and actively liaised with Berkeley on behalf of our residents whose journeys are being badly affected by these works.

“We appreciate the efforts Berkeley is making to reduce the impact these works are having on the flow of traffic. We will continue to monitor and liaise to ensure traffic conditions do improve.

“Thank you too to the motorists who have alerted us to delays and back-ups.”