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.
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.”
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