Residents slam council who asked them to clear weeds on streets

Residents slam council who asked them  to clear weeds on streets

Furious residents slam council who asked them to become ‘weed warriors’ to clear streets of vegetation for free – after previously blaming Brexit for growth on its streets

  • Brighton and Hove City Council is launching ‘Weed Warriors’ later in March
  • The authority blamed labour and equipment shortages on their growth last year

Angered residents have slammed their city council after it asked them to be ‘weed warriors’ and clear the streets while blaming Brexit for their growth.

Brighton and Hove City Council is under fire following the new scheme asking volunteers to help tackle the ‘unruly’ growth of weeds in problemed areas.

The ‘Weed Warriors’ project – set to be launched on March 17 – comes a year after the authority blamed Brexit for weed growth thanks to labour and equipment shortages.

But locals have lashed out against the idea of doing a council job, with the authority recently agreeing to one of the highest UK council tax rises this year.

One resident said: ‘5% Council tax increase, and now you want us to do your job for you?…is this a joke?’

Brighton and Hove City Council is launching  the ‘Weed Warriors’ project later this month

Another added: ‘Is it April Fool’s day? You could not make this up.’  

Volunteers will be given tools and trained how to ‘weed safely at an induction session’ as part of efforts to make the area more ‘attractive’. 

Demand for more help is said to have followed a ‘national shortage of manual workers’, making it difficult to recruit for street cleaning positions. 

In June last year, a council spokesman said: ‘The key problem we’re facing is difficulties recruiting enough staff to keep on top of these issues.

‘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.’ 

Following the ‘Weed Warrior’ scheme, Councillor Elaine Hills, Co-chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, added: ‘We know how important avoiding pesticides for weed removal is to our residents, which is why our streets have been glyphosate free since 2019.

‘We’ve had difficulty recruiting for street cleansing positions in recent years and Cityclean are doing all they can to remove weeds.’

Although the council’s ‘hardworking’ Cityclean team does carry out weeding throughout spring and summer, its ‘labour-intensive nature’ can also cause some areas to become overgrown, it was said. 

The authority blamed Brexit-caused labour and equipment shortages on their growth last year

She continued: ‘The Weed Warrior scheme will help us keep up with the demand of manual weeding through the spring and summer months.

‘As well as Weed Warrior community events, volunteers can also join in by becoming a Weed Warrior in their local area.

‘We hope the scheme provides an opportunity for residents to gain new skills, be more active, get out and about in the city and find new places to explore.

‘You’ll also have the opportunity to meet new people who are all as passionate as you about looking after our beautiful city.’

The Green Party-led council stopped using poisonous herbicide glyphosate in 2019, which it said at the time would result in more weeds.

To combat this, they invested in a small weed-removing vehicle, recruited additional staff on their street cleansing team and employed additional contractors.

Over the last 13 years the government has cut the council’s annual funding by £110million.

Councillor Steve Davis, co-chair of Brighton & Hove City Council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, also added: ‘There is a national shortage of manual workers. We’ve had difficulty recruiting for street cleansing positions in recent years and our Cityclean team are doing all they can to remove weeds.’ 

Weed complaints have surged in the past few years, with many pictures of overgrown streets on social media.

But the plans to recruit residents as ‘weed warrior’ volunteers has sparked further dismay.

One said: ‘You do realise that keeping your pavements and gutters free of weeds is your statutory responsibility?’

Another added: ‘What a p*** take! In addition to extortionate council tax rates, you want us to do your work for you that you’ve neglected for years !?

Councillor Elaine Hills, Co-chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee (pictured) said the council had found it difficult to recruit people for street-cleaning positions

‘Get the CEO out there earning his salary….’

Another asked: ‘Unbelievable, what does our council tax pay for?’

Mr Davis continued: ‘Residents and community groups in some areas of the country – including Brighton & Hove – have already been volunteering with their local councils to help remove weeds in their local areas.

‘So in this respect our weed warrior scheme is an extension of activities that have already been happening in the city.

‘The scheme will help us keep up with the demand of manual weeding through the spring and summer months.’

It was added that the council also hopes it will provide an opportunity for residents to ‘gain new skills, be more active and and get out and about’.

He continued: ‘It’s also an opportunity to meet new people who are also passionate about looking after our beautiful city.

‘Our budgeting for 2023-24 also had to address a budget gap of more than £14 million.

‘This has been fuelled by demand for our services, very high inflation, the ongoing impact of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and a real-terms decrease in government funding.

‘This is also the fourteenth year in a row that the council has had to address a real terms government cut to its budget, totalling more than £110 million since 2010.

‘I can understand our local council tax payers feeling frustrated with such extreme funding cuts from the government.

‘I would invite anyone wishing to know more about volunteering as a weed warrior to visit our website at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/weed-warriors.’

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