The Poms have got the right idea – they would run sheep in the streets of Auckland to trim the berms

The Auckland Council could well benefit from an idea being promoted by a ratepayers’ lobbying outfit in the UK.

The idea is to have cows and sheep cut the grass without the expense of petrol, mowing machines and workers to drive them.

Bloody sensible.

The council could make a few bucks from the meat, wool and milk for good measure.

Alf brings the matter to the attention of the Auckland Council, which voted to save $3 million by not cutting grass berms in the old Auckland City area from July.

City folk – some, anyway – kicked up a ruckus about that decision before the local body elections.

One councillor told them they should follow the rest of the region, take pride in their community and mow their own berms.

Rodney councillor Penny Webster says that at a time when household budgets are tight, the council cannot afford the $12 million to $15 million cost of mowing berms for the whole region.

“It’s not fair that one area gets berm mowing, while other areas mow their own,” said Mrs Webster, a former Act MP. “The council had to make things even without increasing rates even more.”

She was disappointed with local body election candidates from the Auckland City area who were complaining about something the rest of the region did without fuss.

Onehunga Mall resident Mike Haley told the Herald he could understand the desire for savings, but the berm ruling would be to the detriment of Auckland’s neighbourhoods.

He estimated that 30 per cent of berms in the area were unmown.

“I’ve been noticing the berms getting longer and longer … some are just ridiculous,” said Mr Haley. “It is to the detriment of our physical environment.”

Haley said he mowed his own berm.

Good for him.

In the UK, a report to town hall chiefs says cows and sheep could cut the grass.

The report was prepared by the TaxPayers’ Alliance pressure group.

This outfit is fair bubbling with good ideas and its report says local authority employees could contribute in many other ways to keeping council tax bills down.

Ideas for saving money run from replacing bottled mineral water in meetings with tap water to sacking staff who abuse their taxpayer-backed official credit cards.

Councils, it said, should remove road humps and speed cameras, stop town twinning schemes, sack their climate change officers, and scrap the lady mayoress’ clothing allowance.

They should also consider saving money by encouraging council tenants to do their own repairs.

The 201 ideas were put forward by the public spending pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance with the aim of nudging councils towards giving better value for money.

The list of ideas was drawn up by Harry Phibbs, a Tory councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham in London, who said it included items that ‘could be shrugged off as mere common sense – missing the point that common sense is a rare and precious commodity in local government.’

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has urged town halls to follow the advice.

Among other ideas that have an appealing ring to them:

They should stop paying for translators, diversity officers, fair trade co-ordinators, five-a-day co-ordinators, work experience co-ordinators, and European officers. They could then save money by cancelling frivolous award ceremonies organised to make pointless staff think they have achieved something.

Sure enough, the ideas were condemned by the union Unite, which includes council workers among its members.

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