Pavement weed problem is ‘miles worse than we thought’, says councillor

Posted On 27 Oct 2021 at 11:21 am

The problem with weed-infested pavements is “miles worse than we thought”, according to a Conservative councillor.

Garry Peltzer Dunn has spoken out after asking a series of questions about pavements at the Brighton and Hove City Council meeting last week.

Councillor Peltzer Dunn said: “The problem is miles worse than we thought. The council does not have a workable plan for keeping pavements in the city safe.”

His questions came as complaints grow about the challenges posed for pedestrians by uneven pavements, overgrown with weeds since the council stopped using chemical weedkiller.

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In a written answer, Green councillor Amy Heley, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainable Committee, said: “Weed spraying has been replaced with six additional seasonal staff.

“On top of this, we have 160 street staff who clean the streets including detritus, leaves and weeds. Contractors also support the process.”

She said that the council was responsible for maintaining 975km or just over 600 miles of pavement but had weeded only 20 to 30 per cent – leaving about 450 miles untended.

Councillor Peltzer Dunn said: “Pesticide use was banned in Brighton and Hove by the then Labour administration in November 2019 without a workable alternative plan to clear pavements of weeds manually.

“With statistics showing only six council workers are responsible for clearing the 975km of pavements, the council is struggling to cope.

“Claims against the council are running at record levels, with 31 claims being lodged in the year to date by residents who have been injured.”

The council said that 45 claims were made in respect of injuries caused through pavement accidents in 2020-21, 55 in 2019-20 and 60 in 2018-19.

It said that no payments had been made as a result of upheld claims in the past 12 months although 37 claims remained to be resolved, with money set aside if necessary.

Councillor Peltzer Dunn, who represents Wish ward in Hove, said that he was astounded by the response from the Green administration, adding: “They have failed totally to address this major problem.

Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn

“They appear to feel that they have investigated and put new methods into dealing with the clearing of weeds to the pavements and then confess that they have only cleared 20 to be 30 per cent of the pavements.

“Bearing in mind there are over 975km of pavements in the city and, taking the midpoint that 25 per cent have been cleared, this leaves about 740km in an unattended condition.

“This equates to a pavement in a dangerous weed-covered condition which would run from Brighton and Hove to Edinburgh. Some Green achievement!

“The Green Party administration appears to feel that their response to this year’s problem was adequate, ie, to employ six additional seasonal staff to manually clear the weeds.

“They now have stated that they will be obtaining new equipment and changing the method of clearing the weeds and this is of course welcomed if in fact it will eradicate the problem.

“It is vital for the administration to fully understand and accept that there is a duty of care to residents and visitors alike in the city.

“For every claim made for injuries caused by the state of the pavements, there are many more such accidents which go unreported yet are still painful and disturbing for many people particularly the elderly and visually impaired.”

Councillor Amy Heley

The council said: “Many different types of machinery were trialled including different processes for weed removal.”

Officials were carrying out “benchmarking” with other councils to try to identify solutions, including new types of machinery – and “engagement with councillors and community clean-up groups continues”.

Councillor Peltzer Dunn also asked: “What changes are planned for next year to avoid this year’s problem?”

Councillor Heley replied: “A new mechanical weed ripper/sweeper is being ordered that will allow better removal from open spaces and wide footways such as Old Shoreham Road and New Church Road.

“In addition, there is a plan to replace the push weed ripper with strimmers which increase the effectiveness in terms of transport and manoeuvring.”

  1. Chris Reply

    Strimming the weeds won’t achieve more than a couple of weeks respite before the plants grow again from the roots. Most wheeled mechanical devices can only operate where the pavements are smooth enough, what with broken paving slabs, patches of tarmac, tree roots and pavement parking there won’t be many places where the new machine can operate.

  2. Chaz. Reply

    The usual Brighton Politics with the Greens and Labour.
    Greens blame Labour, Labour blames Greens.
    Meanwhile the residents continue to suffer.
    Time to vote both Socialist parties out and get adults in charge.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Usual misinformation from Amy Heley. It was Green councillor Tom Druitt, working with local anti-pesticide charity PAN, who got the council to agree to stop using pesticides.

      They agreed to reduce spraying of just one herbicide to once per year, whilst alternatives were decided.

      Then Labour chair of the ETS committee Anne Pissaridou decided to to stop all use of Glyphosate without notifying the committee or affected councillors leading to the problems we now see with just 6 extra staff employed.

      Note that the ban only applies to use by the council on council land. Glyphosate is still legal to purchase and perfectly safe if usage instructions are followed for anyone rider to use on pavements, gutters, and your own land.

      In agreement with my neighbours I cleared all the weeds using Roundup and now spot spray on dry windless days to keep them in check.

  3. GE Keys Reply

    How many claims to Council for trips and falls so far?
    This is a public Health and Safety issue.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      As commented by Amy, and echoed by a PAN spokesman on BBC Sussex recently, there are lots of trip hazards on pavements already, so what did it matter if a few more pensioners fracture their hips tripping over weeds . The council had allocated funds to cover legal costs 😠

  4. Anony Reply

    Yet twice now I’ve seen workers in fluorescents pulling weeds from pavements outside the council building on Tisbury Road Hove (no where else, just outside the council building!) Why?

  5. Green Greens Reply

    Mechanical solutions? Like the bubble gum removal machine that breaks down more than it operates? Is this petrol or electrical? Just wondering which direction the pollution is off set towards.

    A strange “Green” this council is. Not Environmental, more “green” as in too new and inexperienced to get things right.

  6. Kaz Reply

    The future cost of re-establishing almost 1000 km of pavement is staggering.

    Not removing the weeds means they grow through the pavement – causing potholes. On tile pavement it is already obvious tiles are being pushed up – causing them to easily crack as there is little “load spreading” – so very little weight required to break the tiles.

    The CO2 impact of the repairs to rectify all that pavement is staggering.

  7. Ben Doyle Reply

    Its nice how us residents have a huge council tax bill yet the greens can’t be bothered yet speak utter gobble blaming covid or brexit about not doing their job

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