RESIDENTS have called on the council to keep road verges wild following the coronavirus pandemic.

During lockdown, mowing and other landscaping services were suspended by North Ayrshire Council and residents say that wildflowers should be planted and allowed to flourish.

Danny O’Donnell, 56, from Largs says turning verges with low footfall into wildflower beds would be beneficial for all involved.

He added: “I think it would be a positive thing because at the moment the grass is out of control down at Broomfields anyway.

“If that was turned into a meadow-like flower bed it would be beneficial not only for the people of Largs but visitors to the town as well.

“It would also benefit the insects like bees and butterflies and they help us in a multitude of ways.

“For the council it’s a win-win because it could save them money on mowing and at the same time free up the gardeners to do other more pressing matters.”

Danny believes that Largs has lost a lot over the last few years and this small change would bring huge benefit for residents.

He said: “I think as it stands at the moment it is untidy and unkept anyway so I think when it is in bloom the attitude of people would change.

“It’s simply to make it as natural and colourful as possible and it can’t be any worse than uncut plain grass.

“It is only a little thing, but it brings some beauty back to the town because over the years we have had so much taken away due to budget cuts.”

Naomi Hawthorne, an environmental campaigner from West Kilbride, also believes that less mowing by the council would be hugely beneficial especially for local wildlife.

She said: “Less mowing by local councils means parks, green areas and verges have been allowed to bloom, there are beautiful wildflowers popping up everywhere.

“Not only is this just beautiful to look at, it's great news for pollinating insects.

“With humans’ constant encroachment into wild areas, and our heavy use of chemicals both in our homes and in agriculture, bees and other pollinators are now endangered species.

“Their decline is not only a problem for them, the ecosystem and our food chain but also to our economy, they are estimated to be worth around £200m per year to agriculture.

“The list of foods which would no longer be available to us without our pollinating insects is shocking.”

Naomi also recognises the financial benefits that this could bring to North Ayrshire Council, and says it just ‘makes sense’ to keep the verges wild.

She said: “We are currently micromanaging all aspects of the built-up areas around our towns and roads.

“If we encourage these areas to be more natural, they would only need to be cut back once a year which will in turn save local councils money.

“At a time where there are closures of local libraries and community centres it makes sense to both save money and save the bees."

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “Last year, we confirmed we would be taking a ‘relaxed’ approach to maintaining the grass in some areas across North Ayrshire where there is low footfall.

“This includes some of our rural roadside verges.

“This approach is in line with our Local Biodiversity Action Plan to encourage the growth of native species of flowers, which in turn supports insects and bees, attracts birds and the cycle continues and flourishes. “

Councillor Ian Murdoch said: “My own personal view for the North Coast is that I would welcome more wildflower beds, especially in the current climate where we are allowing grass areas to grow wild.

“During lockdown we’ve been out for exercise more and when you look at the wild grass and flower areas, the insects and bees have been a lot more visible.

“The council have cut back on cutting grass so for me it’s a no brainer.”