COUNCILS are a natural target for criticism because they spend our council tax, often in ways that we cannot see the point of.

In the case of Cirencester Town Council, a large proportion of its annual budget is spent on staff; some of whom work in the offices and others as groundsmen in the parks and grounds around the town.

One of these grounds is the historic Roman amphitheatre, now covered over in grass and in need of mowing from time to time.

It was here that a town council groundsman was thrown from his mower, suffering serious injuries, while cutting the grass on a slope.

Given that the council is publicly accountable, it would be reasonable to assume that any of its employees operating machinery such as a ride-on mower would be properly trained in its operation.

Yet this was not the case with the mowing of the ampitheatre a couple of years ago and as the health and safety prosecutor said this was an entirely avoidable accident. The man involved could have been killed, not just injured.

A council spokesman said that new measures have been put in place, and that is probably the case, but is that a matter of shutting the stable door after the horse bolts?

Cirencester has been awarded the status of quality council. Does it deserve it? And do we, as taxpayers have to fork out the £30,000 this case has cost the council?