Maintenance of Southend Council’s parks and open spaces will be reduced in a bid to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

From Monday, (March 30), the service changes are as follows:

  • Highways grass cutting and shrub pruning – suspended
  • Tree works – routine tree inspections, tree planting and tree pruning suspended
  • Outdoor sports facilities – Public use is suspended and maintenance will be reduced
  • Parks – Maintenance reduced
  • Open green spaces (other than parks) – Maintenance reduced
  • Play areas – All play areas have been closed. Safety inspections will continue but will be reduced
  • South Essex Homes sites – Maintenance of green spaces reduced with a focus on keeping emergency exits clear.
  • Schools – Reduced grass cutting and pruning with a focus on keeping emergency exits clear.
  • Emergency responses to situations such as fallen trees will be maintained.

Litter picking and bin emptying in green spaces will continue, as will the watering of new trees.

Works at the council’s cemeteries and crematorium will also continue.

Councillor Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “As the local authority, it is important we follow the national guidance being issued, and protect our staff so that they can observe social distancing, for example. That is hard for many parks staff who under normal circumstances, work in teams.

"We have therefore decided to scale back our grounds maintenance service, to concentrate on what is essential at this time and protect our staff.

“Some areas, such as parks, will continue to be cut to allow residents space to exercise. Dog bins will continue to be emptied and young trees will continue to be watered, but we are scaling back our service.

"Residents need to be aware that this will impact on how the borough will look over the coming weeks, and some maintenance will take time to get back up to standard once we return to a normal service.

“I would like to thank all the staff for their hard work over the last few weeks. I know that some of them have suffered verbal abuse just for doing their job, and although I understand resident concerns about seeing them out whilst they are at home, under the Government guidance they are able to work and so it has been disappointing to hear about this.

"I would urge people to show their support whilst they continue to work through these difficult times.”