LETTING the grass grow under their feet and not sweeping the roads or picking up litter for five weeks prompted "significant levels of complaint" to Fife Council.

The parks, streets and open spaces service ceased "nearly all" grounds maintenance and street cleansing activities when the lockdown was announced in March.

But the impact was "clearly visible" and the unkempt look of our towns and villages caused such a stir that cutting the grass, litter-picking, looking after gardens and tackling fly-tipping has been reclassified as "critical activity".

Community manager Tim Kendrick said improvements had now been made and "public feedback confirmed the importance of having attractive parks and open spaces at this time".

His report to the policy and co-ordination committee today (Thursday) said work had been halted when the coronavirus struck.

He explained: "Parks, streets and open spaces were left unattended for five weeks; only a minimal waste collection service was maintained for the worst fly-tipping cases.

"The environmental impact of this withdrawal was clearly visible within a few weeks, with uncut grass, litter and illegal dumping drawing significant levels of complaint from communities across Fife.

"This prompted an application to the corporate incident management team to reassess grass-cutting, garden care for the vulnerable, fly-tipping and street-cleansing as critical activity."

He continued: "The team approved the application to re-categorise this work and, on April 22, parks, streets and open spaces staff returned to work using the appropriate PPE, hand sanitiser and social distancing measures.

"Within days, grass open spaces and tenants' gardens had been cut and the worst of the litter cleared from streets.

"The improvement was noticeable and the public feedback confirmed the importance of having attractive parks and open spaces at this time.

"These maintenance activities will return to their normal frequency cycles and a business-as-usual position should be achievable within weeks."

Mr Kendrick concluded: "The recommencement of these works has reduced exposures to dangerous waste materials, avoided the legacy costs of trying to cut overgrown grassland and enhanced the critical wellbeing benefits of maintained spaces."