Councillors raise safety concerns as weeds overrun pavements

Two councillors are raising concerns about weeds causing a trip hazard on quiet residential roads.

Weeds near London Road railway station in Brighton

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, said that people in her area had ended up in hospital after tripping on weeds growing between paving stones.

She plans to ask Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee to make paving safe around shops and bus stops and on sloping pavements.

Councillor Fishleigh said: “Numerous older people have hurt themselves when slipping on wet vegetation growing between pavements in Rottingdean Coastal ward.

“Unfortunately, several have had to go to hospital with head injuries.”

Labour councillor Theresa Fowler, who represents Hollingdean and Stanmer ward, is concerned about long grass across the pavement in Hollingdean Terrace.

She said: “As much as I do enjoy seeing the wildflowers that have been popping up by the roadside and agree that we do not use pesticides, Hollingdean Terrace is looking particularly bad with long grass lying across the pavement.”

The council said that it did not use glyphosate weed killer last year and would not be spraying the herbicide this year either.

Council workers are removing weeds by hand in some places.

Last year extra workers were employed from July to clear weeds from city roads.

Workers removed weeds from 472 roads in Brighton and Hove last year.

In October last year, Patcham ward councillor Alistair McNair shared his concerns about overgrown pavements in Hollingbury causing a trip hazard.

The latest questions are listed to go before the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee meeting which is due to start at 4pm net Tuesday (22 June). The meeting is scheuled to be webcast on the council’s website.

  1. Chris Reply

    Maybe if able-bodied residents were to take responsibility for clearing the pavements outside their homes it would help, and it doesn’t take long to do. OK, if may be the Council’s job (we pay council tax, etc, etc.) but why does it always have to be someone else’s respomsibility. The same goes for snow and ice on the pavements. Take a bit of care and pride in your own environment, or are most people too self-absorbed to even notice.

    • Andy Reply

      Just send any bills for medical expenses resulting from trips on these hazards to bhcc.

    • Gill Wales Reply

      Completely agree with Chris. We’ve got a brilliant street cleaner in the Regency area who works really hard, but there’s a limit to how much street cleaning staff can do. And a limit to how much we should expect them to do. It used to be considered normal for residents and business owners to sweep and tidy their bit of pavement. The council is trying to encourage a return to these good habits. https://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2021-06-02/brighton-locals-urged-to-help-keep-city-clean-by-adopting-a-street

      • Peter Challis Reply

        You are very lucky.

        In poor forgotten North Portslade, we apparently only have one operative covering the whole area. Where I live there is no regular street cleaning or litter cleaning other than a rare visit by a motorised road sweeper that ignores areas where cars are parked.

        Other than than it is up to residents to report areas such as pavements and twittens where weeds are blocking footpaths, or to do it ourselves.

        It wouldn’t be so bad except we all pay our council tax for services such as rubbish collection and street maintenance, but they have other environmental and social projects (including the pointless #netzero by 2030 scheme) that they want to invest in instead.

  2. Greens Out Reply

    There are now numerous, highly effective, weed killers that do not contain glyphosphate.

    This is just the council being lazy and incompetent. Again

  3. MikeyA Reply

    You can’t say that the city isn’t greener….

  4. Peter Challis Reply

    Just for clarification on the history.

    Councillor Tom Druitt of the Green Party, working with the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) anti-pesticide activist group, got councillors to agree to a ban on the use of pesticides in the city in 2018.

    “Pesticides” are chemical substances used to kill harmful insects, small animals, wild plants, and other unwanted organisms. They cover a wide range of products including insecticides, rodenticides (rat killers), fungicides, and herbicides (weed killers).

    The ban ended up only covering the use of Glyphosate based weed killers on council land by council operatives – except for use on Japanese Hog Weed and killing tree stumps.

    It is perfectly still legal to use Glyphosate in the UK and EU and can be used by anyone else on their own land or on “council” land such as pavements and gutters.

    Use of fly, rat, mouse, wasp killers and other pesticides have not changed.

    The first stage agreed was to reduce Glyphosate sprays to once per year, but in 2019 the new Labour leader of the Environmental, Transport and Sustainability (ETS) committee Councillor Anne Pissaridou decided, for some reason yet to be disclosed, to implement a total stop on the use of Glyphosate without consulting the committee or councillors, and without having determined an effective alternative weed removal strategy.

    Weeds started growing (and even better this year!) leading to potential trip hazards, so the council employed 6 temporary staff in 2019 to clear weeds manually. Councillors were contacted to identify priority areas, around bus stops, shops and post offices, where these contractors should work.

    Since then, the council has still not found an effective weed control system as can be seen in the latest council ETS minutes.

    Instead in areas where there are still human road sweepers, the operatives are removing weeds as part of their normal work using hoes and strimmers.

    Elsewhere, it appears that the council want civic-minded residents who initially joined “Tidy-Up Teams” to help remove litter from city parks to take on weed removal and litter collection where the council does not.

    IMO the council should restart annual use of Glyphosate. As long as usage and safety procedures are followed it is a cost effective and thorough weed removal strategy that kills weeds down to the roots and leaves wildlife and insects unharmed.

    • bradly23 Reply

      good history: superficialy, i too was sucked into the poison story that Glyphosate was “wrong, totally” and now we find that both Labour and Green read the wrong science to justify nonsence

  5. Steve Reply

    The definition of a weed is.. a wild plant growing where it is not wanted..! It seems the word has grown negative connotations but in fact we are beginning to understand that wild is actually better for nature, the planet and us. IMO the wild plants growing in towns should be encouraged but trimmed for safety where necessary. Why not adopt the German culture of being responsible for the pavement outside your house too.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Except that a “wild plant” growing uncontrolled and leading to elderly or disabled falling and injuring themselves is a different matter. I wonder how many claims have been made against the council for compensation?

      There is also the issue of the roots of “wild plants” damaging pavements.

      I like the “spin” but a “wild plant” can also be a “weed” if it encroaches on plants and vegetables you are trying to grow leading to them dying. I assume you don’t care about commercial farmers and the costs to consumers of reduced yields?

      I like the idea about “German culture” but what about the other areas such as footpaths and twittens not outside your own house?

      What do other towns and cities in the UK and other countries do? Are we the only ones with this problem created by the council?

      It would have been nice if the council, with a modicum of forethought and planning, had explained that this was the approach expected of their electorate/servants (and provided an associated reduction in council tax) rather then just leaving everybody else to clear up the usual mess they’ve created.

      • Steve Reply

        Hence I suggested “trimmed for safety where necessary”.

        Both wild and cultivated plants can cause damage to pavements.

        There is no spin. Just a reminder that calling a plant a weed doesn’t mean it is intrinsically bad. In fact there are many cultivated plants that are bad for the environment for example.

        I think the German culture idea simply relieves the council from some duties. Obviously they still have to carry out the others.

        Personally I like to see nature fighting back after all the destruction humans have reigned on it and now is a good time to re-evaluate that.

  6. Greens Out Reply

    “It would have been nice if the council, with a modicum of forethought and planning….”

    HAHHAHAHHA! Good one.

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