Weeds in Lancaster are 'disgrace' and making residents ashamed of their city

Weeds are making Lancastrians ashamed of their city.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 1st August 2022, 10:54 am
Updated Monday, 1st August 2022, 3:45 pm

Lancaster has been described as a ‘wasteland’ and a ‘tip’ by some residents yet parks in the city and Morecambe along with Torrisholme Cemetery have just retained their Green Flag status.

One Scotforth resident first complained about weeds along roads and pavements in 2006 and Susan Talbot of Westbourne Road has written to her local councillors, the council and MP, without any noticeable success.

“Both routes into Lancaster from the motorway are a disgrace and humiliating for its residents as it’s a terrible first impression for its visitors,” Mrs Talbot said.

Weeds on the railway bridge on Meeting House Lane, Lancaster. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“This is a serious public health issue. People need accessible, pleasant green space to walk around as well as clean streets and town centre.”

Among her concerns are:

*Weeds in pavements, gutters and along garden walls;

*Seriously unmanaged trees;

*Overhanging hedges;

*Litter and the stench from bins;

*Neglected cycle paths.

She had also seen a rat in Station Road and cited Dallas Road gardens as an example of where grass had been cut but the cuttings left and the edges not dealt with.

One visually impaired resident fears injury owing to the state of footpaths as does a young mother walking with her baby while a Coverdale Road resident said the weeds there had been at waist height before they were treated. Many other people feel that Lancaster’s unkempt appearance compares unfavourably with towns like Garstang and Fleetwood.

Coun David Brookes, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member for environmental services, said the situation was frustrating.

In 2020, Lancashire County Council regained responsibility for maintaining roads, pavements and back allies after years of contracting the city council to do it.

Last year, it was late summer before county’s plan began and complaints followed.

County had hoped to start treatment earlier for 2022 but owing to issues with contractors, spraying didn’t begin until the end of May. Morecambe, Heysham and the vast majority of Lancaster now have been treated once with Scotforth, Galgate and the rural districts due to be completed by late August when a second round of spraying will begin.

“From our observations of that treatment, it doesn’t seem to have been that good,” said Coun Brookes. “There are areas where weeds have died back and others where it’s difficult to notice any obvious difference which is concerning.”

He cited the age of much of the district’s pavement infrastructure and the potential for herbicide spraying to be less effective during certain weather conditions as possible reasons for exacerbating the problem.

Some follow-up sweeps were done by city especially in Caton and South Road and city has taken over back alley clearance to ease bin collections. Some temporary staff will start work soon and overtime will be made available.

Two more staff will also be recruited in September to cover public realm areas.

The city council’s grassland management scheme introduced in 2020 no longer collects clippings to save on disposal costs.

“It’s a compromise,” said Coun Brookes. “The city council has done well during 15 years of austerity but we’re now getting to the point where frontline services are impacted.”

Next year, county plan to start treating weeds in March and April to produce a better outcome.