Council bosses have defended their intention to spend more than £160,000 on six lawnmowers – while battling to chop thousands from a decreasing budget.
Cabinet members of South Ribble Council – which has seen core funding slashed by 46 per cent since 2010 – have been recommended to approve the decision for the ride-on machines at their meeting on September 9.
The devices, which would cost £26,699 each, would replace the six-year-old mowers currently being used to cut 2,000,000 square metres of grass.
Grounds maintainence teams were shown different machines and it was decided more expensive turbo mowers would be more durable and better at dealing with wet and varied grass lengths.
The council insist rigorous procedures have been followed and taxpayers are getting best value for money.
Coun Peter Mullineaux said: “The mowers are due for replacement as they are six years old and have been used for eight hours a day for eight months of the year. We mow all our parks as well as the grass, shrubs and verges by all the roadsides in South Ribble 10 times every year.”
Since the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review of 2010, the authority has been forced to make £4m savings, resulting in some compulsory redundancies and changes to cheaper service providers.
With the 2015/16 budget of £12.753m down from £12.851m last year, watchdogs have urged caution over spending.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is a big bill for new kit. The local authority should look for cheaper alternatives where possible, and even explore buying perfectly decent second-hand models instead.
“Taxpayers expect their local area to kept in good nick given the levels of council tax they fork out, but that doesn’t mean that new mowers should cost the earth.”
Penwortham Coun David Howarth said: “If we are going to invest in new mowers, I hope they have some sort of attachment to catch the grass and not just spew it out, which is what currently happens.
“I have asked about this in the past and have always been told it’s down to cost.”