Residents of a Maryport estate say they are being ripped off by an estate management company.

Sixty residents of the Beeches turned out to tell the Times & Star of their concerns.

These included paying £300 for grass to be cut and a further £300 for a management inspection to ensure the grass had been cut.

Some of the newer residents said they did not understand or were not given the information that showed that buying a house on the Beeches meant buying into this management contract.

They are paying for a playground that nobody on the estate uses and for grass cutting in an area known locally as the dog toilet.

The private estate is managed by the national company Greenbelt.

A spokesman said Greenbelt has had an agreed programme of works on the Beeches since 2004.

"The figures quoted for maintenance and quality control are for the entire programme of works on the land we own: fences, play area, path, shrubs, trees and grass areas, as detailed in the residents’ Written Statement Of Services, in line with the specification in titles and planning conditions.

"We also conduct three quarterly visits and one annual independent inspection of the play area."

But resident Alan Craig said the annual bill is increasing and the services are getting no better.

"They say they maintain the area but they don't. We are told they cut the grass quarterly. How many times did any of us mow our lawns during the hot summer? None of us because the grass didn't grow, yet we are paying for it.

"The large green space is literally a dog toilet."

Mr Craig and the other residents gathered said nobody used the playground for which they are paying.

There are no children on the Beeches they said, although one woman said her grandchildren used it when they came to visit about once a year.

Residents said the only children using the playground are from neighbouring areas and that was occasionally only.

One Beeches resident said it had actually happened that the grass had been cut one week at a cost of £300 and an inspection was held the following week

"Why couldn't workmen just take a photo of the grass. It would be a lot cheaper and more efficient."

Some residents said their bills had gone up by 26 per cent with some rising from £98 to £116 a year,

Mr Craig added: "We are locked into this. We are told it is part of our purchase."

A Greenbelt spokesman said the company would be happy to discuss the playground.

He also suggested that,there had been few significant rises for residents who pay £2.63 a week for maintenance and that this figure could even be reduced next year.

"On the question of the play area being used by children not from the development, the terms of our Greenspace model mean 99 per cent of our developments managed within it are designated public open spaces by planning statute."

On the dog toilet" issue, he said dog fouling was an offence and Greenbelt had no authority over anti-social behaviour. He urged resident to report instances to police or Allerdale council.

He said a meeting with a community liaison officer was a key to finding solutions to the problems.