Barnstaple Town Council has apologised for delays with its new grass cutting service. The council took on the maintenance of roadside verges from Devon County Council in April but admitted that it was still ironing out problems. Environment committee chairman, councillor Arthur Windsor said delays by the contractor and weed infestation of shrub beds had meant the desire to make the roadsides respectable again was taking longer than expected. I hope people will bear with us while we get the verges sorted out, he said. Councillors gave a clear message that this is what they wanted and we will get there, although I understand from officers that there have been some initial problems getting the contracts up and running smoothly. The council said it had taken action to improve the service and had put in place a new contract for shrub bed maintenance across the town, starting this week. Town clerk Will Austin said: Were really sorry that we havent yet got the situation under control and that the roadsides arent doing justice to our wonderful town. As far as the grass is concerned, it was always going to be difficult as we felt we could only ask the taxpayer to pick up the bill for five cuts a year, when ideally wed be doing six or more. We havent been helped by the latest cut starting some three weeks later than we had expected, and I am following this up with the contractor. The shrub beds along the inner relief road are even more difficult as they have not been maintained for several years and are infested with thistles, nettles and other weeds which seem to love the changeable weather weve had in recent months. We now have a plan in place, and a local contractor will begin work this week to remove the weeds. They will then provide ongoing maintenance which we expect will make a big difference over time. Mr Windsor said the council was still learning but was pleased with the success of its roadside sponsorship scheme. Weve also got some brilliant results from our roadside sponsorship scheme, with 24 areas maintained by local businesses and community groups, he said. We are learning more and more all the time about a new area of work for the council, and Im sure well be on top of the problems very soon.Click here to return to our homepage for more North Devon news.