Tories and Labour demand plan to tackle weed-infested streets

The council is failing in its legal duty to keep the streets free of weeds, councillors said last night (Wednesday 21 September).

And they have told officials to prepare a report “with options for alternative methods of weed removal that are both cost-effective and environmentally friendly”.

The decision was made at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting where members once again criticised the state of the area’s overgrown pavements, verges and gutters.

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth proposed a motion to deal with the problem when the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee met at Brighton Town Hall. And Labour councillors gave their backing.

Weeds became an issue after the council stopped using glyphosate weed killer – known commercially as Roundup – because of concerns that it could cause cancer.

Several councillors committed themselves to banning the organophosphorus herbicide in the run up to the May 2019 local elections.

In June 2019, Councillor Anne Pissaridou, who chaired the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee at the time, told fellow councillors about steps being taken to phase out glyphosate weedkiller.

She said: “We will be limiting the use of glyphosate to lower-footfall areas only and using a new technology which uses infrared technology to ensure the minimum amount of pesticide required is applied.”

In November 2019, the committee backed a “pesticide reduction plan” and heard that council workers were removing weeds manually because no alternative had proved effective. A trial using hot foam found that it did not kill plants’ roots.

This year, dog owners have spoken out, sharing details of how their pets were injured when barley grass seeds became embedded in their paws and ears.

Councillor Nemeth said: “The debate has changed somewhat as time has gone by, in that the public at large sees the policy as more about deliberately allowing plant growth for perhaps ideological reasons under the banner of ‘rewilding’ rather than tackling the claimed damage of herbicides.

“Many don’t see the policy as environmentally friendly. Despite there being many more flowers growing, no analysis has been carried out to work out if not spraying is actually more helpful to the environment than spraying once a year.

“After all, the current method of trying to weed by hand or machine is inherently inefficient and diverts hundreds of thousands of pounds away from genuine environmental initiatives.

“Not to mention, and key to the argument, the environmental damage of having to replace tarmac and concrete pavements at a much greater rate.”

Councillor Robert Nemeth

Councillor Nemeth, a beekeeper, said that he did not use herbicides in his garden or in any of the community projects in which he is involved.

Labour councillor Nancy Platts said: “I am really conscious that this policy was brought in on my watch when I became leader of the council because we had all signed up as the Labour group to eliminate the use of pesticides – and that is something I still support.

“It was in the expectation that there were viable alternatives that could be brought in.

“I am concerned that we’re now coming up to three years later (and) we’ve seen alternatives that don’t seem to be viable.”

She said that the Labour group had allocated funding to the quest for alternatives to glyphosate and that the official report should explain what had happened to that money.

One of the council’s most senior officials, Donna Chisholm, the executive director for the environment, economy and culture, blamed the weed problem on a mix of issues.

Weeds near London Road railway station in Brighton

She said: “There is a well-known and well-documented national crisis on the availability of labour, particularly with seasonal roles, which is what was recruited in terms of weeding.

“There has also been an issue accessing equipment from Europe for a multitude of reasons. There has been a long lead-in time for the new pieces of equipment we have been seeking to manage the weeds.”

She said that the committee would receive an outline plan early next year explaining how the council would tackle street weeds.

Green councillor Jamie Lloyd blamed Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union – saying that he had been on national radio explaining why weeds as a problem were linked to the “end of free movement”.

He said: “We have a labour crisis that is affecting all levels of council services and it’s not just us suffering this problem. It’s councils up and down the country.

“It’s places like farms which are struggling with the lack of seasonal workers which is a real problem. It’s a real pressure on council officers to fill places that can’t be filled.

“We are encouraging or facilitating communities who, if they want to take part in weeding, they can. We’re not saying anyone should.”

He said that glyphosate was dangerous to pets and animals and caused cancer in humans and it should not come back.

  1. Peter Challis Reply

    So Green Councillor Jamie Lloyd blames the weed problems on Brexit, and is now pretending to be an expert on pesticides, which looks like he is just regurgitating scaremongering propaganda from Brighton’s own Pesticide Action Network who worked with the Greens to introduce the ban.

    Glyphosate is still legal to use and purchase in the UK, the EU, and the US, and warnings of it being carcinogenic have been removed from products in California where the fears were started.

    It is perfectly safe if usage instructions are followed and West Sussex County Council, together with several other towns across the UK, have restarted spraying weedkiller on pavements and gutters.

    Note that the council decided to reduce spraying to once per year but then ETS chair Labour Councillor Anne Pissaridou stopped all spraying without having determined a practical alternative.

  2. Hovelassies Reply

    Please, please, please Phelim et al keep our streets free of weeds and trip hazards.. what does it take? We pay our taxes – all I want is clean safe streets – not much more than that. The Green council is violating its covenant with the people.

  3. Robert Pattinson Reply

    My family came to visit me last week and they said what a dump Brighton and Hove is. It looks so run down. I can understand leaving certain areas to go wild but not pavements they are now a danger. The seafront area in Brighton also needs pressure washed its filthy. As for the public toilets on Hove seafront they are a health hazard.

    • Phoebe Barrera Reply

      But you must admit the graffiti, litter, cycle lanes and bus gates are amazing 😉

  4. Ian Reply

    Are there no unemployed people at all in Brighton & Hove? Because I can’t see that there’s a problem due to the end of freedom of movement otherwise.

    The issue here is that without efficient weedkillers, it takes more staff, and the council hasn’t employed them.

    • Dingo Reply

      Nah they are all to busy making £120 a day begging. Lol I actually got off the bus with one the other day on his commute into work outside blatchington Road Co-op

      If you have ever tried to de weed by hand on pavement you’ll understand its not a job anyone with any sense would do, it’s a brutally horrible job. Hence why they invented weed killer

  5. Helen Reply

    Gylphostate is not remotely dangerous when used correctly. The cancer risk has been hugely overblown anyway. Sunlight and alcohol are more cancerous! It’s still used widely in the uk in agriculture and can be purchased from b and q. Bring in minimal spraying by qualified staff once a year to kill off the roots of the weeds that are getting bigger each year that goes by. There’s hardly any pavement left in my area including an 8 ft high Elder tree blocking one part.

  6. Technique Reply

    Excuses, excuses, excuses…

    Pavements are for walking on, they are not supposed to be ‘wild’




  7. Andrè Reply

    But Brexit bruh…

    That’s all he can come up with?

    There are plenty of unemployed people in Brighton & Hove who would benefit from having a chance to earn a wage.

    Better still, those who are doing community service, that’s what that scheme is for, criminals serving the community as a punishment.

    Seriously, have they any brain cells between them or are they really that dense?

    Time to vote them out, completely.

    • Helen Reply

      Yes it’s always Brexit when it suits them.
      They seem forget that Brexit wasn’t an issue when they found staff to put in take out cycle lanes, cut down trees, the green wall, staff for policing parking and BBQ use etc.

  8. Claire Withdean Reply

    Double pavements are now singular where I live thanks to the grass and weeds spreading and are serious trip hazards. Have seen elderly residents walking in the road as that’s safer. They are so big now in some roads they are preventing rain water from going into the drains.

    According to the signs, verges turned re-wilding areas are supposed to be cut August/September. We are coming up to the last week of September and no sign of it being trimmed, and when they finally are the cuttings will be left to just blow across the streets and are not collected up. These areas also contain discarded rubbish, dumped garden cuttings and dog poo as owners cannot pick through the long grass to get to it. The seeds have also spread into several nearby gardens. Now it’s a daily battle to remove unwanted weeds from flower beds and lawns, and the verges just looks a complete mess. Thanks B&HCC!

  9. Dave Reply

    I hate brexit, it was stupid and damaging on so many levels, however it is not a valid argument in this scenario.

    The idea of this policy was to come up with other ways of dealing with weeds, then phase out weed killer. Instead the opposite has happened. So this needs to be reversed on H&S grounds, equally its not environmentally friendly to have to replace the roads and pavements every 3 years rather than every 10 due to damage by plant roots.
    It’s the same reason we all still drive to work, the transport is slower and more expensive than a car. You need to Fix the causes of the problem before you can eliminate the problem, not create other needles problems and then gas light about it. Good lesson in life there greens…

  10. Dsc Reply

    Smoking weed is better!!!!

  11. Helen Reply

    Green councillor Jamie Lloyd blamed Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union – saying that he had been on national radio explaining why weeds as a problem were linked to the “end of free movement”.

    Jamie, You blame Brexit for any number of council failings.
    I would like to point out that before you can employ someone for vacancies, you do actually need to advertise the positions. Having checked your website for situations vacant, I’ve not found one job relating to weeding.

    Jamie, I would also point out, that you appear to have found sufficient staff or contractors to cut down the ‘Green wall’, employ BBQ and Parking police and CCTV operators, very strange that Brexit had no effect on these positions.

    Jamie, you are aware that we have just shy of 1.2million unemployed in this country ?

    Jamie, You do know that EU members can still travel to and from various places but need to follow strict rules like everybody else in the world.
    Strange that there’s EU workers still driving buses, work in shops and garages, along with Americans, Canadians, Egyptians, Chinese, Japanese and well any country you care to mention really.
    This ‘Brexit’ excuse is a dead fish in the water, Covid has had a bigger impact so stop looking for lame reasons, get off your backside and sort it out.

  12. David Pickering Reply

    The hold thing scandalous we pay all this council tax and get nothing for it people who can work want work im a gardener id be happy to work for you

  13. Patrick Miller Reply

    lol just hearing green excuses are a laugh a minute if this inept lot is blaming Brexit then why didn’t they have a back up plan or can’t they think for themselves

  14. Technique Reply

    They always manage to find the necessary time and necessary labour-force to implement cycle lanes that no-one wants.

  15. Herb Reply

    Damn Greens. If only we had the Tories in. Just think what they WOULD. Brighton would be a paradise, lovely roads and weed-free verges, no leotard-clad light-jumping cyclists or bicycle lanes, no damn buses causing traffic congestion and pollution, free car parking 24/7,extra roads, council tax incentives for second-home owners and, this would be fab, another Eye 360 in Shoreham

  16. Anne Reply

    Agree with others about using community service bods. Not sure why our councillors haven’t even mentioned it.

    • mart Burt Reply

      Because they haven’t got the brain power to think of that.
      I’m sure the excuse will be, we can’t use community service people because of Brexit, Covid, the weather etc etc.

  17. Valerie Reply

    Incentivise gardening types who own secateurs and loppers of their own to keep diwn street weeds around their neighbourhood. Get neighbourhood gardeners together to work on their own street.

    Weed roots can also destroy brickwork walls. Boiling water can deal with weeds too! Fill vacuum flasks ( Thermos) with boiling water and pour over smaller griwths to suppress and eventually kill them.

    • mart Burt Reply

      The strange thing is, I have a dog, but I don’t have to bark when someone bangs on the door.
      I have train and bus passes, surprisingly, I don’t have to drive either.
      I pay someone to deliver my goods, service my car, make me a coffee and sandwich when I go into a café I don’t have to do any of those things.
      Oddly enough, people pay me to do work for them, I don’t just take their money and expect them to do it themselves.
      WE pay the council for this basic legal requirement, when will people like you wake up.

  18. Technique Reply

    Valerie; are you employed by the Green party?

    The task of keeping the streets clear of weeds is supposed to be undertaken by the LA. And is paid for from our Council tax.

    • Patrick Miller Reply

      Lol must be the greens way of trying to save cash for next eyesore

    • mart Burt Reply

      Valerie will be wanting us to take our rubbish and recycling to the sites next, repair street lighting and no doubt mob handed with brooms, graffiti remover and such like when we’re up town.

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