A campaign and petition begun by Conservative councillors aims to persuade Cambridgeshire County Council to resume weed killing.
Nearly 100 people a day are signing a newly launched petition.
Organisers began the petition a week ago and as of today has over 600 signatures, but they want 3,000 signatures at least to ensure it can be debated by a full meeting of the county council.
Cllr Steve Count, opposition leader at Shire Hall, says in his current blog: “I am sure you have become aware recently of the dreadful state of our roads, pavements, and cycleways due to weeds.
“This is entirely due to a change in policy the current joint administration forced through in February of this year.
“As part of that change they promised to engage with parishes and towns, but we have seen no evidence of that at all.
“The county council has stopped all cyclic weedkilling (i.e., annual spraying) as well as spraying before laying new surfaces such as slurry on footpaths.
“Residents across the county have asked us what we can do about it and us (the Conservative group) will present a motion to full council on October 17th.”
He adds: “If you agree that the state of our roads, paths and cycleways are unacceptable and getting worse due to weeds can I ask for your help, by clicking the link and signing the petition, as well as circulating as widely as possible.”
Letters published on social media from county council officials confirm the current policy.
One, from Steve Nicholson, local highways manager north, explained to Manea district councillor Charlies Marks that “this year Cambridgeshire County Council are not carrying out any programmed weed killing treatment.
“The intention is to stop where we can the application of chemical weedkiller in our cyclic weed removal programmes. The intention is not to stop chemical weed treatment where it is part of a process i.e., as preparation prior to a footway slurry seal or a carriageway surface treatment.”
Mr Nicholson quotes the county council’s highway operational standards document, which is council policy, and states: “We will apply weed killer to highway areas – standard – apply weed killer targeted approach at agreed locations identified on risk-based approach.”
He said: “The wording allows us to use chemical weedkiller where it is still the best option to meet the need to manage a risk.”
Responding to specifics raised by Cllr Marks he said: “In this case it is within policy to use weedkiller as part of the slurry and surface treatment as mentioned above but not as a blanket weed kill treatment.
“Therefore, there will be weeds in footways and the carriageway channels. Invasive weeds will be attended to.”
Cllr Marks believes this is a “very short-sighted policy; we can all surmise why this service is being stopped this year, however before we all put 4 and 4 together, I will be writing back to Steve at highways to ask why it’s been stopped, who made that decision and also what budget did CCC highways have for Manea/Fenland area for weed control as per previous years and where has this money been redirected?”
March councillor Jan French said: “I don’t know about the rest of Fenland, but March streets are covered in weeds, breaking up footpaths and road surface.
“CCC not cutting public rights always and hedges. It’s disgraceful.”
She said town councillors had begun to volunteer to remove weeks.
“Called community highways volunteers, if you have concerns and need trimmed, please let me know. Volunteers always welcome if you want to help let us know.”
Whittlesey councillor Kay Mayor said: “Not just March it’s everywhere. Why should volunteers do the job? Expect volunteers to do everything these days. There is only so much you can expect
“Perhaps we should get behind the petition. If everyone in the four market towns and all the villages in Fenland sign it, they should take notice.”
The petition says its aim is to “reverse the Liberal Democrat, Labour, and Independents (the Joint Administration) decision to only kill common weeds, when they become injurious to health.
“We want them to agree to reintroduce the weedkilling regime they had before, using approved chemicals.”
The petition states: “We the undersigned believe the state of the roads, paths and cycleways in Cambridgeshire are in a shocking state and unacceptable condition, due to this administration’s change to the weeding policy.
“Active travel is discouraged due to the state of these roads, cycle ways and foot paths. Any assumed savings they thought the council would make will be eaten up by higher repair bills in the future.
“Roadside gulley’s and drains will become blocked more often, this will undoubtedly increase the likelihood of flooding.
“The sight of rapid decay in our town and village centres is unacceptable, as well as the state of the highways between settlements, these all look more appropriate in a post apocalypse movie, than a first world country.
“A policy where common weeds will only be removed when they become injurious is ridiculous (i.e., a trip hazard as an example). The new bureaucracy imposed, involved the public reporting those weeds, CCC tasking an inspector to examine those weeds (up to 14 days later) then to decide whether to instruct a contractor or not, is ludicrous in the extreme.
“We ask for immediate action to return to a pro-active weedkilling regime.”
You can access the petition here:
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