Weeds in Lancaster district criticised, but council asks public not to use weedkiller and suggests community tidy up sessions instead
Several members of the public have contacted the Lancaster Guardian recently over the increase in weeds that are being left unchecked across the district.
Lancaster City Council has now issued a statement on the matter, asking people not to go out and use weedkiller, and suggesting communities could organise weed pulling sessions to tidy up the streets.
The council took the decision earlier this year to stop using glyphosate due to concerns about its potential effects on the environment and the health of humans and animals.
Residents are now being asked to help tackle the issue by working with others in their community to pull weeds by hand or using another method, such as boiling water.
Kevin Bamber, who lives in Lancaster, said his son was stung by a nettle next to the Covell Cross outside the Judges Lodgings Museum at the weekend.
He said: "He soon got over the sting but it just highlighted to me how unkempt the streets around Lancaster have become.
"There’s weeds, even ragwort which is poisonous, growing all around the cross and the streets round Lancaster.
"Some footpaths, like on Coulston Road, are that overgrown you now struggle to get a double pram down the footpath.
"We’ve got so much amazing history and architecture in Lancaster but the council seem to not care or do the most basic jobs to look after our landmarks and footpaths."
Ian Nicholson, who lives in Bolton-le-Sands, said: "I've lived in this area since 1981 and I am very aware of just how the area is looking increasingly uncared for.
"My main concern is the public kerbs, pavements and walls.
"Why is no one weeding or spraying all manner of plants growing by the roads?
"Have they calculated how much inactivity now will cost when trees grow from our infrastructure?
"For me it is shocking how we are allowing this area of the country to degrade."
Earlier this year Lancaster City Council took the decision to stop using the weed killer glyphosate due to concerns about its potential effects on the environment and the health of humans and animals.
As a consequence it passed responsibility for weed killing on the public highway to Lancashire County Council, which had previously paid the city council to undertake the work on its behalf.
Although the county council continues to use glyphosate in a controlled way and to strict guidelines, it does not advocate its use by the general public on pavements or roads.
Coun Dave Brookes, Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet member for environmental services, said: “We know that people are concerned about weeds and that they can make areas look untidy and unloved.
“Many others are rightly worried about the potential risks posed by glyphosate, so while we’d encourage people to look after their local environment, we’d ask them not to resort to simply putting down weed killer.
"There are many ways to remove weeds naturally and some areas are organising community weeding sessions to tidy up their streets, which is a great way of bringing people together for a socially distanced activity, and helping the environment at the same time.
“The city council will support this by dropping off purple bags and collecting waste, just as we do for community litter picks - send a request to [email protected]
“The city council has advised the county council of the local hotspots for weeds, and the county highways team has said that it will monitor them and take action as necessary.
Lancaster City Council is also asking people to be patient as it continues to cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with those changes made to grounds maintenance operations set to continue for the foreseeable future.
This revised programme means non-essential grounds maintenance functions, such as regular mowing of parks, are not taking place.
This is to allow the council to continue providing essential services to the public such as waste and refuse collections, and to support the council’s wider work of helping vulnerable residents.
Those which have safety implications, such as maintaining visibility lines at highway junctions, have continued throughout.
More information about the changes can be found at Lancaster.gov.uk/coronavirus.