Brexit to blame for overgrown pavement weeds, council says

Posted On 17 Jun 2022 at 11:09 am

Weeds near London Road railway station in Brighton

The proliferation of pavement weeds is because of labour and equipment shortages brought about by Brexit, the council says.

Residents, particularly in the city’s suburbs, have been complaining about pavement weeds since 2020, after the council stopped using the weedkiller glysophate on hard surfaces.

Since then, the council has struggled to recruit enough staff to cut the weeds – and says it is also struggling to get the equipment it needs.

This week, it apologised for the ongoing situation – and said it was trying to urgently recruit more staff.

A council spokesman said: “The council ended the use of Glyphosate for weedkilling on hard surfaces in 2019 with cross-party agreement. It was made clear at the time that this would result in more visible weeds.

“But there are definitely more weeds on pavements than we’d like there to be at the moment.

“The key problem we’re facing is difficulties recruiting enough staff to keep on top of these issues.

“We started our seasonal recruitment in January this year and have carried out open days and other initiatives.

“Unfortunately, we have only managed to recruit nine of the 26 seasonal staff we would normally take on to deal with the increased amount of weeding needed during the spring and summer months.

“As many of our seasonal staff used to come from European countries for the summer, the ability of European nationals to work in the UK after Brexit, alongside the pandemic, is continuing to have an impact on our recruitment.

“All our street cleaning staff who work on foot rounds are also weeding when they can.

“We are also having difficulty getting the equipment we would like to improve the efficiency of weed removal. We have equipment on order that was due to be with us weeks ago but has been delayed.

“This includes a small vehicle that can remove pavement weeds and which is due to arrive in August.

“We recently managed to buy four industrial low vibration strimmers, and more are due to arrive at the end of June. Off the shelf domestic strimmers are not suitable because they are not powerful enough and because of the harmful effect on staff using vibrating equipment for extended periods.

“We are sorry for any problems residents are experiencing. But we would like to assure you that we are doing all we can to try to get back on top of
the issue and will continue to push hard on it.”

The council says it is also:

  • Employing two teams of contractors to focus on weed removal
  • Setting up contractors to remove excess growth and weed around tree bases. We hope this will start in the next two weeks
  • Instructing contractors to assist with verge cutting.
  • Ordering brushes to adapt one of our sweepers for larger pavement areas – this should be in action by the end of June
  • Looking at a range of options to improve our chances of recruitment
  • Offering overtime to operational staff to focus on weeding
  • Promoting voluntary and community group weeding and provide advice, tools and support.

Please visit if you would like to know more about seasonal work for the council.

The move away from glyphosate – which is also known by the brand name Roundup – was over its links to cancer.

It has been the subject of big payouts in America after a series of high-profile court cases brought against the maker Monsanto.

  1. punterpunter Reply

    desparate headline!! horror weed-killer!!! what is the going-rate per hour for plucking weeds up btw !!!?

    • Robert Pattinson Reply

      £15 per hour plus free WEED.

  2. Robert Pattinson Reply

    Wait to compensation cases start coming in when people trip over the weeds. This has NOTHING to do with BREXIT its due to bad planning. We had the same issues last year.
    Perhaps get your workers back to the office so issues can be sorted.
    As for the the banning of single use BBQ’s that mainly tourists use as they don’t pack BBQ’s is spoiling one of the nicest things about our beach. Yes make sure people don’t use them before 6pm and fine people using them directly on such places as Hove lawns but banning them won’t work. USE THE PEOPLE DRIVING AROUND ENFORCING THIS TO CLEAR WEEDS.

  3. Rostrum Reply


  4. Peter Challis Reply

    More lies from an anonymous council spokesperson. Councillors agreed to reduce spraying to once per year. Then ETS chairperson Labour Anne Pissaridou introduced the total ban without having coming up with a practical alternative, allegedly as part of setting up the Labour-Green coalition.

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      Perhaps you could join the taskforce with a barrow and clippers?

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      Peter, you are absolutely right.

      Firstly, we had the knee-jerk reaction to the weed-killer, which might have been OK (although there is a safe way to use the stuff in moderation) had there been any alternative plan in train, but there wasn’t, even though many other councils – some nearby – came up with viable alternatives.

      I will draw a veil over the interim period, when nothing meaningful happened, but, here we are, with officers blaming the problems on all sorts of things except themselves. The inability to recruit seasonal EU workers because of Brexit is laughable.

      So now, they say, we will get contractors in. Contractors would have been available throughout this fiasco, but nothing whatsoever was done to get them in.

      It’s not just the ‘political controllers’ of the council, who are a total shambles, but officers don’t come out of this covered with glory, do they.

      I have also noticed that a certain councillor has now disappeared from the role of Chair of the Environment etc Committee and every other Committee as far as I can gather. Good start but much too late as far as the Greens are concerned, although there will still be loads of people who will vote for dogma and total practical incompetence over commonsense.

    • Ben Doyle Reply

      This inept coalition is laughable if something goes wrong or not being done they blame covid or brexit while us residents are paying a huge tax and permits

  5. Rose Reply

    We’ve been liberated. Now, we’ve a booming ecomony, we’re more than ever respected around the world and we’ve world-beating leader. We’ve the best train services, best medical care system and a fast growing economy. No, iceberg sinks our mighy ship. Not even god! We

  6. Mark Reply

    Why don’t they offer people who get parking fines the opportunity to exchange them for weeding duties.

  7. Jason Reply

    What a pathetic excuse for failing to do the jobs local ratepayers are FORCED to pay for.

    It’s NOT Brexit (which never really happened anyway), and neither does it have anything to do with their non-use of the dangerous chemical Glyphosate.

    There are any number of SAFE weedkillers, but there’s something else the council no longer uses, which worked well enough in the past.

    I’ll type this slowly because I know councillors aren’t very bright.

    It’s called a MOWER. That’s M.O.W.E.R and it cuts grass.

    It’s motorised. You sit on it and drive it over an overgrown area, and the long grass miraculously disappears.

    (Ok, it’s thrown all over the place, but at least it’s not waist-high any more)

  8. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Absolutely, Jason, but I think it’s officers rather than councillors who are the muppets here.

  9. Hove Guy Reply

    It is ludicrous to blame Brexit for their own lack of initiative, but at least they have not got around to blaming Covid – yet!
    Meanwhile, there are probably many students who would welcome the job over their summer break.

  10. Lynette James Reply

    Really love the look of Brighton as so many other do, particularly the young. All this nonsense about “weeds” being a hazard! Most pavements in Brighton and elsewhere have been in an appalling condition for years and I myself have tripped or nearly tripped up on them several times. It is the excuse the “tidy brigade” use to get their way because they can’t bear the sight of nature and natural surroundings. Of course if there are clumps of grass gowing in the middle of a path then remove them but wild flowers growing along pavements and up walls and over rusty wire fencing – leave them all alone as they are beautifying what has up until now been a sterile, anit-wildlife space. Well done Brighton and Hove cou cil. I am now going to join the Green party. If residents would rather have cancers such as lymphoma and other blood cancers and all manner of other illnesses through the use of a herbicide that has and is being banned in so many countries than put up with what nature has so bountifully given us then they deserve all they get and will probably get. Unbelievable!

  11. Mike Joyce Reply

    Anyone heard of Community Service or whatever its called now. Get those people out there and utilise them to do something to help the community and its surroundings. As well as weeding, they could remove graffiti, repair roads, tidy up all the rubbish that the city is swimmimg in. Simple solution and maybe some ideas for our hard pressed council to think about.

  12. Billy Short Reply

    This is an example of a world gone mad.
    Most people probably support the ban on weedkiller but that means someone has to roll their sleeves up and do some weeding.

    This issue is now in its third year so we can’t really blame Brexit or Covid, and there seem to be plenty of council staff in other jobs, writing endless PR press releases and putting up unnecessary plastic signs everywhere.
    If you can’t get people to weed for £10 per hour then you need to offer £12 per hour, and I’m sure plenty of people would like a summer job outdoors at that rate.

    And please let’s drop the idea that we are ‘re-wilding’ our pavements, gutters and verges. This fake green idea usually comes from someone who has watched two David Attenborough programs and then joined the eco warrior cult as a fad. If we want more pollinators and to encourage bees then that’s best done by planting specific plants in our parks and communal green areas.

    If you stop weeding the streets then the plants take root beneath the paving slabs and very soon you have a bigger issue with pathways needing to be relaid – costing a lot more than £10 per hour.
    If you stop sweeping the streets of dead leaves then these leaves compost into soil and your gutters don’t drain and your underground drains get blocked, with further damage to nearby pavements and buildings then likely.

    No more hot air and excuses. Bring back these basic council services.

  13. AO Reply

    Well at least they’ve now stopped blaming covid and moved onto Brexit. I’m surprised they haven’t used the Ukraine war as a reason. What’s next? Alien invasion?

  14. martin w Reply

    been to eastbourne today puts brighton to shame seafront lawns etc look cracking hanging baskets place looks pristine wonder where thay get there workers from perhaps eastbourne didnt leave the EU

  15. Keith Reply

    If they blame brexit, I blame the Americans. Seems fair.

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