A FRUSTRATED pensioner has told of his disgust after receiving a three-figure grass-cutting bill on his birthday.

Ian Hamilton was preparing to celebrate his 91st birthday when he opened a letter from West Dunbartonshire Council [WDC] stating that the annual grass-cutting fee – which had previously been free – would be going up to £100.

The pensioner, who lives in Wood Quadrant in Whitecrook, told the Post “it’s unreal” that the local authority expects those who are unable to do their own gardens to pay.

Clydebank Post: Ian told the Post that he used to be so proud of his gardenIan told the Post that he used to be so proud of his garden (Image: Newsquest Staff)

Ian said: “All my days I’ve paid everything, I’ve never been in debt, I’ve worked all my life, and at 91 years of age they spring this on me.

“It’s just unreal. It’s hard to explain how you actually feel, I was disgusted. I mean it’s only grass cutting, you know what I mean?

“It’s not as if they’re coming and weeding the garden or anything like that, it only takes ten minutes.

"I cannot comprehend how they got this idea of charging people who are unable to do it themselves.

“We’re not asking for much, ten minutes, twenty at most and that’s only during the summer period and they want £100.

“If it wasn’t for me losing my balance I would have just carried on doing it.”

Ian had been maintaining his garden up until around a year and a half ago when family members raised concerns over his safety after he fell several times.
Clydebank Post: Ian's gardenIan's garden (Image: Newsquest Staff)

He explained he was incredibly proud of his garden and spent many hours hand landscaping it as well as growing various vegetables.

Ian added: “I had it lovely. I was proud of my garden. I loved it, I used to go and buy plants at B&Q but I also grew a lot through seeds.”

Maryanne Fleming, Ian’s stepdaughter, said she felt heartbroken for him and is calling on the council to reconsider the price hike.

She said: “I help him as he doesn’t get any help. I’ve got arthritis and the only thing I struggle with is the garden.

“On his 91st birthday, he didn’t receive a card but he got this letter with a bill for £100. I called them [WDC] and explained that he is 91 years old and they have a duty of care for their elderly.

“The person on the phone said ‘yeah it used to be free but not anymore’. Then they asked if I wanted him taken off the list, it’s just wrong.

“So if he doesn’t pay the £100 he won’t get his garden done and I’m not fit to do it.

"All they have to do is cut round the square and give the top of the hedge a trim, it’s not a big garden.

“When people get to pension age they might not be fit enough to do their gardens.

"The council should have a duty of care to go in and look after it when they get to that age.

“They [WDC] are trying to get as much money as they can out of them whilst everything is going up, gas, food, and electricity.

“I just feel so heartbroken for him and I think they should reconsider, even if it was a small charge that people could afford but not £100.”

A West Dunbartonshire Council spokesperson said: “We are sorry this resident is unhappy and sympathise with his situation.

“The introduction of a fee for this service was agreed at the council’s budget meeting in March as part of a number of steps taken to close a £21million budget gap.

“The cost is still heavily subsidised by the council and provides households participating in the scheme with one hedge cut and grass cuts between April and October.”