Fewer grass banks are being mowed in Brighton and Hove since specialist machinery was brought in.
Tenants and councillors were told that the reason was that health and safety rules had been tightened up over the years.
Robert Walker, from City Parks, said: “I’ve worked for the council for about 20 years. When I first started we just used to get on with it.
“We’re taking health and safety more seriously.
“We had a near miss on a housing site and a contractor who was working for us had someone killed.
“If a contractor tells us a bank is too steep because of health a safety we have to accept it.”
Councillor Alan Robins said: “When I first left school my first job was in parks and gardens (for Hove Borough Council).
“We did a lot more by hand – using grass hooks and hoes – and we didn’t use any chemicals.”
Housing manager Graham Page said that where health and safety issues had made mowing steep banks impractical, this was reflected with tenants paying lower or no grounds maintenance charges.
He said: “We’ve decided to leave some of it to be scrubland to attract wildlife.”
“Rats,” one person suggested in a stage whisper at the back of the meeting at Hove Town Hall.
The matter was raised by tenant rep Heather Hayes at a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Housing Management Consultative Committee.