The furore over plans to stop rates-funded berm mowing may have been sparked by Shore councillor Ann Hartley.
For years residents on the Shore, along with Waitakere, Manukau and Papakura, have mowed their berms and she sees no reason why the rest of Auckland can't too.
The proposal, estimated to save $3 million a year, has met strong criticism from resident groups in St Heliers-Glendowie and Mission Bay- Kohimaramara and their local boards.
Auckland city critics, like St Heliers-Glendowie Residents Association chairman Keith Savory, fear grass verges will look terrible and it will disadvantage people with limited mobility.
Mission Bay-Kohimarama Residents Association president Adriana Gunder says the council insists it owns the berm, so should cut the grass.
"Instead of spending money on big projects that no-one wants anyway, they should come back down to earth."
Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer agrees with reducing berm mowing costs but says removing them completely would be a mistake.
"Those on the isthmus are paying huge rates. Now on top of user-pays rubbish being signalled they'll also lose the long-standing free berm mowing service.
"Residents need to make sure they have their say on this."
But Ann Hartley says neighbours help the elderly or disabled in their street and the council would also assist.
Mrs Hartley discovered Auckland city residents still had their berms mowed when questioning an officer and sparked debate about the issue.
Auckland Council now plans to stop roadside berm mowing outside houses from July 1 and the proposal is in the draft budget for 2013 to 2014.
Mrs Hartley says the council is reviewing many services to bring in one standard for the whole region.
She thinks people just need time to get used to the idea.
The council will continue to mow berms that aren't directly outside homes, she says.
Mrs Hartley says a survey discovered many people's contractors were mowing berms and council contractors skipped those ones but were still paid a flat rate.
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan says flats, townhouses and retirement villages should not be adversely affected.
"Many complexes have gardening contractors already so they would need to include berm mowing in that contract," he says.
Residents will be able to have their say on the Draft Annual Plan 2013-2014 from January 24 to February 22.
- North Shore Times
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