Council in the rough over £1,200-a-week mowers

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A CASH-strapped council is spending £1,200 a week hiring specialist mowers to keep its two golf courses in trim.

Hull Council began hiring two green cutters and two tee cutters on June 18 for use on Springhead Park and Sutton Park golf courses for the duration of the growing season.

An independent survey of both courses last year said the council’s own mowing equipment was six years old, regularly broke down and needed replacing, but the expenditure nonetheless comes at a difficult time for an authority that has to save £24m over the next three years.

Rows about financial control and management at the council have rumbled on since the shock departure earlier this month of chief executive Nicola Yates.

Ms Yates left her £160,000-a-year role amid suggestions that her relationship with the ruling Labour group had broken down, and her departure followed a row over a new senior management structure, which saw both unions and councillors attack plans to axe jobs to save £1m.

She has been replaced by interim chief executive Darryl Stephenson, a previous holder of the post, who has been asked to help cut costs by exploring shared functions with East Riding Council.

A Guildhall source has also warned of a “massive black hole” in the council’s budget.

However, golfers hoping to play a few holes in the city - their numbers no doubt boosted by coverage of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham - will be buoyed by a report which says playing standards have improved “dramatically” since the machines were introduced.

The council also plans to remove 27 redundant bunkers across both courses as part of a three-year improvement plan.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are hiring these new machines on a temporary basis as part of the three-year improvement plan on both golf courses, as the old machinery was not fit for purpose.”