Lending a hand in berm battle

TAKING ACTION: Ella Kumar wants to help solve the problem of overgrown berms.
TAKING ACTION: Ella Kumar wants to help solve the problem of overgrown berms.

Berm battler Ella Kumar is the brains behind a new lawnmower loan scheme designed to keep the grass down in the suburbs.

She's heard from many unhappy constituents in the wake of Auckland Council's decision to stop maintaining urban berms and reckons she's come up with a solution.

The Puketapapa Local Board member has decided to make manual lawnmowers available for residents to borrow.

"It doesn't cost people anything, no petrol, no electricity. All they have to do is pick them up," she says. "And it would be great to see people helping each other."

Mrs Kumar got The Warehouse Mt Roskill on board to help administrate the lending scheme that kicks off in February with two lightweight manual mowers that fit easily into the back of a car.

She has personally funded one mower and the retail giant has picked up the tab for the other.

"If it becomes popular and I can get people to help fund any more, we will get them," she says.

The Warehouse Mt Roskill manager Mark Laramy says the idea appealed to him because of its strong sense of community.

"I think it's a good idea and it will be good to give it a go to see if it makes a difference," he says.

"It's handy for locals and of course I think it's a very minimal risk because there is not a lot of cost involved. It's more about helping people."

The long opening hours of the store mean there is ample opportunity for people to come and pick up mowers that will be lent out for three and a half hours.

"The shorter the grass is the easier it will be to mow. If you try and mow a jungle it will be a real tough task," Mr Laramy says.

The scheme is only available at The Warehouse Mt Roskill and only for people living in the Puketapapa Local Board area.

People will need to present photo ID and proof of address before taking a mower away.

Mrs Kumar says the scheme should help residents who have found themselves with extra lawns to mow because of living on corner properties or near reserves.

"I've talked to one community member who is a solo parent. She's got a big lawn and now she's been given two berms to mow," she says.

"So it costs her $30 more if she gets someone to come and mow it for her. For a solo parent it's quite difficult."

She would also like to see neighbours help elderly people and others who cannot mow verges.

Mrs Kumar originally suggested the local board should investigate options for addressing the berm mowing issue, saying it was proving to be a problem for some parts of the community.

The idea was voted down by other members.

"What the board has resolved on is getting Auckland Transport to show what land they are designated in Puketapapa," Mrs Kumar says.

"So then we can remove any questions around who owns it.

"That needs to be clarified," she says.

Central Leader