PUBLIC safety will be put at risk in Inverclyde if nearly £1M worth of cuts to frontline council services go ahead, local authority grounds staff have warned.

Walking routes to schools would no longer be gritted during bouts of icy weather and 800 bins within the district would be left overflowing.

An increased risk of flooding is also feared because fallen leaves would be left to block drains, according to workers.

Greenock Telegraph:

Now a union rep is urging local people to reject a proposed 18 per cent cut to the council's grounds maintenance budget - as well as a plan to axe the seasonal grounds team completely.

Unite man and grounds worker Stuart Graham has set out the 'devastating impact' the cuts would have as a potential health hazard.

And he says that popular recreational areas such as Battery Park would be left an 'eyesore'.

Cash-strapped council bosses are proposing the drastic action in a desperate bid to deliver a balanced budget.

Concerned Unite rep Mr Graham, who has worked for Inverclyde Council for more than 20 years, said: "Our budgets have been cut every single year and they keep coming back for more. But this will be the worst yet.

"There is just no way we could keep the area looking like it does.

"There is a significant health hazard from all of this and it will without doubt attract more rats and vermin."

The proposed cuts would mean losing full-time staff as well as six seasonal workers who are vital to the grounds maintenance teams.

Mr Graham said: "The [walking] routes are already facing challenges and we currently struggle to cover it all due to a lack of resources.

"A further reduction would mean scrapping it all together, which is simply unbelievable.

"As well as safety issues with access to schools, and services being hampered, it will also result in more slips and falls."

Staff would also be unable to manage the 800 litter bins and dog bins throughout the district, Mr Graham warns.

He said: "We will simply not be able to service these weekly. Bins will be left to overflow and be a health and safety issue, resulting in vermin and unsightly mess."

So far this far this year the team have taken on nine collections of leaves from October to help prevent flooding.

Mr Graham said: "Grass cutting has already been impacted. By reducing staffing levels further, it will result in the ability to cut grass going from fortnightly to every three weeks.

"This in turn will impact high-profile areas such as the Esplanade, Battery Park, and Coronation Park.

"As an area we are trying to attract tourism and visitors in to the area. But it also impacts on the quality of people's lives and the environment.

"Shrubs and flower beds are no longer being maintained to previous standards. We were always very high quality in the garden areas we maintained. Now they are increasingly poor-looking.

"It’s a simple fact that the less grass is cut and the longer it gets the more litter it collects leaving areas unsightly and potentially dangerous to the public and wildlife."

The cuts proposals are now out for public consultation, with deleting seasonal staff projected to save £465,000 and reducing ground maintenance set slash £445,000 from the council's costs over two years.