BARNSLEY Council will not be taking forward a scrutiny board’s £1m recommendation for the local authority to invest in machines which collect cut grass - despite widespread complaints about fire safety concerns.

At Wednesday’s ruling cabinet meeting, members discussed the move which had been mooted as a result of issues brought up by ward councillors and residents.

In the summer of 2018, 257 deliberate fires - predominantly started on fields across the borough - were recorded by the fire service which at the time labelled it as the ‘worst ever’ period for dealing with grassland blazes.

According to figures obtained by the Chronicle, there were 86 call-outs to deliberate grassland fires during last year’s summer holiday period from the end of July to the beginning of September - a reduction of more than 60 per cent.

The rate of grass-cutting has increased, from every 25 days to every 21, but the council reiterated its policy on not removing mounds left by mowing.

According to a report, if the council did decide to invest the cash needed to collect grass, it would cost the local authority £150,000 per year to dispose of the waste.

Cabinet spokesman Coun Chris Lamb said: “The recommendations are extremely costly and they’re in addition to what we already spend on cutting grass.

“It would be about £1.16m per year and the money just is not there to do this. What we have done is increase the frequency of the cutting schedule, but that’s as far as we can go. This is something we are committed to as it means there won’t be as many mounds.”