A RETIRED parks boss has hit out over the state of grass verges on the Esplanade and other public places.

Jim Hunter, 86, who was a council superintendent in the 1970s and 1980s, is unhappy that council grounds staff have not been cutting the grass during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Battery Park grass and roadside verges have also become badly overgrown lately, with grass cutting finally restarting at the park this week.

Mr Hunter, also a former LibDem councillor, said: "People have spoken to me about the lack of grass gutting on the Esplanade.

"I think it would give everyone a lift if the place was given a tidy-up."

Mr Hunter believes this is especially important on the Esplanade as many people are using it for their regular exercise during the lockdown.

He said: "It is important to keep the grass cut - particularly on the Esplanade where people are still walking and cycling.

"If the grass was cut it would boost morale.

"I understand there are restrictions because of the coronavirus but they could use a chap on a ride-on machine to cut the grass and he wouldn't be near people.

"Battery Park has been the same, the grass was getting so long there."

Mr Hunter took Greenock and Inverclyde into the Britain in Bloom competition in the 1970s and is passionate about our area's green spaces.

He said: "We took on Aberdeen in the final.

"The BBC made a film about it and although we were runners-up we went on to represent Scotland.

"My opposite number was so worried about us that he flew his staff down here to see what we were doing."

Mr Hunter has urged the council to send the lawnmowers in.

He said: "I am very passionate about horticulture.

"If our towns are tidy, it lifts people's spirits."

An Inverclyde Council spokesperson said: “It’s regrettable that council services have had to be suspended or scaled back because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"This is not unique to Inverclyde.

"Councils across Scotland and indeed the UK have had to change the way they operate in a very short space of time in order to protect staff and residents while continuing to provide vital frontline services to support our communities during these extremely challenging times.

“This has resulted in services having to be prioritised and staff redeployed elsewhere.

“Grounds maintenance has so far been prioritised for cemeteries and the crematorium to ensure we continue to support people who are grieving the loss of loved ones at this difficult time.

“Staff are working hard on getting services back to normal as soon as possible and so long as it is safe to do so.

"Wider grounds maintenance is now being rolled out, including to parks and open spaces, on a priority basis and in a phased approach.

“We thank residents for their patience and understanding during these challenging times.”