The proliferation of pavement weeds is because of labour and equipment shortages brought about by Brexit, the council says.
Residents, particularly in the city’s suburbs, have been complaining about pavement weeds since 2020, after the council stopped using the weedkiller glysophate on hard surfaces.
Since then, the council has struggled to recruit enough staff to cut the weeds – and says it is also struggling to get the equipment it needs.
This week, it apologised for the ongoing situation – and said it was trying to urgently recruit more staff.
A council spokesman said: “The council ended the use of Glyphosate for weedkilling on hard surfaces in 2019 with cross-party agreement. It was made clear at the time that this would result in more visible weeds.
“But there are definitely more weeds on pavements than we’d like there to be at the moment.
“The key problem we’re facing is difficulties recruiting enough staff to keep on top of these issues.
“We started our seasonal recruitment in January this year and have carried out open days and other initiatives.
“Unfortunately, we have only managed to recruit nine of the 26 seasonal staff we would normally take on to deal with the increased amount of weeding needed during the spring and summer months.
“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.
“All our street cleaning staff who work on foot rounds are also weeding when they can.
“We are also having difficulty getting the equipment we would like to improve the efficiency of weed removal. We have equipment on order that was due to be with us weeks ago but has been delayed.
“This includes a small vehicle that can remove pavement weeds and which is due to arrive in August.
“We recently managed to buy four industrial low vibration strimmers, and more are due to arrive at the end of June. Off the shelf domestic strimmers are not suitable because they are not powerful enough and because of the harmful effect on staff using vibrating equipment for extended periods.
“We are sorry for any problems residents are experiencing. But we would like to assure you that we are doing all we can to try to get back on top of
the issue and will continue to push hard on it.”
The council says it is also:
- Employing two teams of contractors to focus on weed removal
- Setting up contractors to remove excess growth and weed around tree bases. We hope this will start in the next two weeks
- Instructing contractors to assist with verge cutting.
- Ordering brushes to adapt one of our sweepers for larger pavement areas – this should be in action by the end of June
- Looking at a range of options to improve our chances of recruitment
- Offering overtime to operational staff to focus on weeding
- Promoting voluntary and community group weeding and provide advice, tools and support.
Please visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/jobs if you would like to know more about seasonal work for the council.
The move away from glyphosate – which is also known by the brand name Roundup – was over its links to cancer.
It has been the subject of big payouts in America after a series of high-profile court cases brought against the maker Monsanto.