Plan to tackle overgrown communal areas in Falkirk
Overgrown and unsightly communal areas around flats in and around Falkirk need to be tackled, amid concerns it is affecting the mental health and well-being of residents.
Falkirk councillors have agreed to look at the best way to help tenants tackle communal areas that are overgrown with moss and weeds.
Councillor Alan Nimmo raised the issue at a recent meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive, asking the council to look at what solutions could be found to the problem.
His colleague, Councillor Allyson Black, showed the meeting several pictures of blocks of flats in her Grangemouth ward to illustrate how some areas are thick with moss and weeds.
She said: “The reality is that living in surroundings that are unkempt can have a negative impact on your mental health and well-being.
“This can be a complicated matter – it is a tenant’s responsibility to keep these areas tidy but having owner-occupiers and private landlords in the blocks can raise even more issues.
“When I became a councillor 14 years ago, the areas looked a lot better and I don’t think there are significantly more owner-occupiers now than then.”
She highlighted Lumley Court in Grangemouth which, she said, used to be well-kept and even had flower-beds.
“Now, the grass is overgrown and the weeds are so bad it’s difficult to see the footpath.
“We can’t allow these areas to get even more run-down and dirty.
“Most of the ground floor flats are reserved for people with medical needs – we can’t expect them to shovel dirt and pick up weeks.
“Most of the areas are so overgrown, most people wouldn’t know where to start and when you move into a flat you don’t expect to have to take a shovel with you.”
Ms Black said the Covid-19 pandemic had clearly had an impact – but she also said that there had also been a big reduction in grounds maintenance staff, who used to clear these areas and maintain flower beds.
She said: “Cuts to councils from the SNP government do take their toll and this is one of the results.
“We’ve lost too many staff whose job used to be to pull the weeds, keep the flower beds nice and keep things neat and tidy.”
She said that they should look to help people form tenants’ and residents’ associations and apply for grants but they needed to give people confidence and skills first.
SNP councillor Gordon Hughes, who is the council’s housing spokesperson, said he did not intend to oppose the motion but suggested a pilot to look in detail at the problem.
“Just having a paper may not give Councillor Nimmo the information he is seeking,” he explained.
“A pilot project would give us more information.”
Mr Hughes said that some of the work needing done around larger blocks of flats is actually the council’s responsibility, rather than tenants.
A pilot would be useful to look in detail at how this works in practice, he said.
Councillor David Alexander objected to Ms Black blaming the SNP Government’s cuts, saying the money for this sort of work would come from the Housing Revenue Account which comes from a separate pot of money.