THE COUNTY'S problem with uncut grass verges could be solved by having a single council for each area, the leader of Cherwell District Council has said.

This claim comes a day after the Oxford Mail revealed the state of many overgrown and "dangerous" verges across the region.

Oxfordshire County Council has said it now only does one major cut a year to maintain the grass, which is due to start in many areas on Monday.

However, the cutbacks have prompted some district councils to take action including, Cherwell District Council which has said it will invest £42,839 to cut grass across Bicester, Banbury, Kidlington, Gosford and Water Eaton.

Council leader Barry Wood said: "Oxfordshire County Council receives 75 per cent of residents’ council tax bills to help fund services such as grass cutting. However because it has run out of money, the funding for grass cutting was cut by half.

"Although Cherwell is not responsible for this service, we are working in partnership with town and parish councils to make sure the grass is cut in the areas where it has the biggest impact.

"Due to Oxfordshire County Council providing a reduced budget for highway grass cutting, we have worked to find the money to provide residents with the service they require.

"For us this only further demonstrates why we think we are better placed to deliver all services across Cherwell as part of the devolution proposals to replace district and county councils with a single unitary authority for the area."

The district council will provide up to 16 cuts during 2016/17 compared to the County Council has said it is providing one big cut each year after slashing its budget by more than £130,000.

There has been a strong reaction to the Mail's story highlighting overgrown verges across the county, with many people saying lives are at risk if something is not done.

Spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council Martin Crabtree said: "We take safety very seriously and prioritise our grass cutting at junctions to maintain visibility, speed limit and hazard signs and crossings."

Woodstock town councillor Sharone Parnes agreed that the issues such as the grass cutting could be better sorted through devolution to a unitary authority for each area.

He said: "Woodstock's big concern is around the Shipton Road which has menacing bends which are very dangerous.

"It is a route predominantly used by school buses and at the best of times is difficult to navigate let alone with the high grass.

"There just seems to be the indication that district council's are not coordinating with Oxfordshire County Council Highways - just an example of the potential benefits of one local unitary authority."

Cllr Nick Carter, Cabinet Member for Local Government, Business, ICT and Customer Services said: 

"First of all, the safety all residents and road users is our priority. Any grass cutting that needs to be done for safety reasons is being done.

"That said, the county council is well aware of the concerns about local residents about grass cutting. That is why we are already working with over 100 parishes to support them in taking on local maintenance work such as verge cutting that are priorities for their communities.

"This isn’t really a unitary issue – it’s about taking decisions at the most appropriate level. But if Cherwell want to make it about unitaries, you could ask what the role of a unitary district is when parishes and towns councils can be empowered by real devolution to respond to the needs of their communities and given that Districts already have the power to delegate to Town and Parishes, there is little evidence they have."