Dog owner starts petition urging council to tackle barley grass menace

A dog owner has started a petition calling for the Green-led council to tackle barley grass after one of her pets was injured by the weeds’ seeds for the third summer running.

Tanya Jeffrey has written to Brighton and Hove City Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty asking for an end to the problem and set up a petition – Foxtail Barley Grass Seeds Must Go – on the Change.org website.

The problem has afflicted a growing number of pets since the council stopped using glyphosate weed killer – known commercially as Roundup.

Several candidates at the 2019 local elections signed up to a pledge to ban the herbicide – and since the ban American foxtail barley grass has spread significantly.

Miss Jeffrey, from Mile Oak, set up her petition after mounting vet bills and hearing about other pet owners in the same predicament.

The petition says: “I am calling on the Green Party currently in power in our city to change policy and prevent the suffering due to a lack of foresight regarding what species is actually being allowed to invade our streets and pavements.”

Her dog Teo, a 12-year-old Italian spinone, has not yet had surgery to remove seeds from his paws or ears because they came out without the need for an operation.

But Miss Jeffery knows that others have not been so lucky and, as a precaution, both her dogs have shoes to protect their paws because Mile Oak’s pavements are covered in the seeds.

In her letter to Councillor Mac Cafferty, Miss Jeffery raised concerns about the impact on wild animals. Brighton and Hove has a large urban fox population and plenty of badgers in the suburbs.

She said that if seeds got into wild animals’ paws or ears, it could be fatal because open wounds could lead to fly strike, resulting in “suffering and death”.

After three years of ever-increasing overgrowth on pavements, Miss Jeffery said that it was time for people to join her in petitioning the council to take action.

Miss Jeffrey said: “This is so invasive that the wildflowers they want to encourage don’t get a chance to grow. It’s so invasive it covers everything. If they want to encourage wildlife, it needs to be done intelligently.”

The council said that Brighton and Hove has 600 miles (975km) of pavements. And for the past three years, councillors have asked questions and debated the menace of overgrown weeds on those pavements without finding an effective solution.

The council said that it had been unable to recruit summer workers to weed the pavement manually.

Tanya Jeffrey’s dog Teo has been injured by barley grass three years in a row

Last month, though, low-vibration strimmers arrived, having been on order for months.

A crew of contractors was due to take to the streets while workers at Cityclean, the council’s rubbish and recycling service, have been offered overtime to deal with pavement weeds.

At a meeting of the full council last month, Councillor Mac Cafferty said that all three political parties had agreed to end the use of glyphosate in Brighton and Hove.

He said: “This is a ‘no overall control’ council so you can’t just shove things through committee. You need cross-party buy-in.

“We are getting there in terms of catching up with the work. All street cleaning staff who work on foot runs are weeding.”

  1. Mick Reply

    Nobody is going to volunteer to pull weeds from the pavement. Get the weed killer out, it’s been used without problem for decades.

  2. Mike Beasley Reply

    There were council operatives cutting grass at the top of the Three Cornered Copse yesterday….using shears! Might take a while! Bhcc are truly hopeless beyond comprehension

  3. Peter Challis Reply

    Usual intentional misinformation from our beloved Phelim Mac Cafferty.

    1. The council agreed to stop using all pesticides but only stopped using one weedkiller Glyphosate on their own land.

    2. The plan was to reduce spraying to once per year, but 3 years ago, the then chair of the ETS committee Labour Councillor Anne Pissaridou stopped all spraying without having determined a practical alternative without discussing the move with the committee or councillors. Why?

    3. Glyphosate is perfectly safe if usage instructions are followed and West Sussex has restarted spraying pavements and gutters using a 4×4 buggy and several other councils have restarted using it. Why doesn’t Brighton and Hove City Council do this?

    4. You can still buy Glyphosate based weedkillers from garden centres, supermarkets, and online in the UK and EU.

    5. The EU has stated that Glyphosate is not carcinogenic.

    And remember that the plan to stop use of pesticides, and particularly 1 weedkiller, was the result of pressure from the Green Party (it was Tom Druitt’s baby) working with Brighton-based activist group Pesticide Action Network.

    So basically yet another Green Party inspired fiasco where they refuse to admit, yet again, that they have got it wrong.

  4. When will the neglect and incompetence end? Reply

    When will this council stop making excuses and do it’s job? Issue for dogs and humans too and totally avoidable situation. No weeding of pavements in North of city still- plenty of trip hazards 3 years in and getting worse and worse each year.

  5. Patcham Guy Reply

    I agree Glyphosate should be re- introduced, the Green Party should swallow their pride and listen to people who know. At the moment we have an extreme political party listening to an even more extreme activist group. Unfortunately even the Conservatives seem to have bought into this idea, that Glyphosate is carcinogenic. Bring on intelligent people please, i am at a loss to know who to vote for in the next elections, but it wont be the Greens or Labour.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Perhaps we need truly independent councillors directly accountable to, and representing the needs of, the electorate in their wards and making decisions on a issue by issue basis for everyone, rather than being controlled by invisible and unelected masters?

      • Andy Richards Reply

        So stand yourself then?

        • Peter Challis Reply

          I was tempted, but I’d get very “worked up” with comments made by some councillors which would probably get me ejected and I also have a health condition that means I need to avoid stress.

          However, to quote Jim Hacker…

          “While one does not seek the office, one has pledged oneself to the service of one’s country. And if one’s friends were to persuade one that that was the best way one could serve, one might reluctantly have to accept the responsibility, whatever one’s own private wishes might be.” 😉

          • Gary Gibbon

            You should stand Peter, we desperately need properly informed councillors, not the rabble of clowncillors we have now.

  6. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Realistically, Gary, we are not going to get 54 (or whatever the number is on the council) really good independents standing for election next year. Additionally, whilst Peter is one of the most clued-up and sensible voices on this forum, B&H clowncil is not worth ruining his mental health over. I can well understand the frustration and stress he would feel if he were a lone voice in the wilderness in amongst the current shower. Just ask Bridget Fishleigh. However, we don’t need 54 good independents – we just need enough of them to make a lot of waves and hold a balance of power between the rest of the awful party candidates. The Greens are, hopefully, dead in the water for good now, although we thought that was so the last time they decimated the city, local Labour is total rubbish and the Tories hardly exist in B&H. It’s a big vacuum to be exploited, but good independent people need to start making themselves known with ideas and policies right now, not wait until just before the elections. No sign of that happening, unfortunately, but at least Lab & Green councillors continue to shoot themselves in the feet with their opinion pieces on this forum, which have nothing to do with the local stuff they were elected for.

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