ENRAGED residents have slammed an “outrageously cheeky” council scheme to get them to clear their streets of unruly weeds for free.
Brighton and Hove City Council is asking taxpayers to become volunteer “weed warriors” instead of employing people to do the job.
Participants must give up several hours of their time to deal with overgrown vegetation across the seaside city.
They will also have to attend a training session and bring their own hi-vis and gloves, the Green Party-run local authority says.
One fuming local, Marlene Brown, said: “I think it’s a cheek.
“Anything else they’d like us to do while we’re at it? Remind me, what do we actually pay council tax for?”
Ross Czolak, who also lives in the area, said: “Let’s get people to volunteer to do the jobs they pay council tax for.
“Trying to use ‘community’ action as a way to also reduce those roles these services should be paid for via council tax as a cost cutting.”
Rob Arbery added: “It’s unbelievable. What next, ‘pothole patrollers’?
“Most of us will weed outside our houses but we pay council tax to ensure this all gets done in other areas of the city.
“Certainly we can all do some weeding out come May elections.”
A statement on the council website asks residents to help “reduce weeds across the city” before the summer rush.
“Our beaches are getting busier with residents and tourists, our parks are getting colourful with budding trees and blooming flowers and, unfortunately, weeds are starting to fill our streets,” it adds.
Volunteers were urged to join a “weed warrior” launch event, held on March 17.
But the local authority faced huge backlash for requesting assistance with something people feel should be covered by council tax.
Tony Lees said: “What a cheek. How much council tax will I get rebated?”
Karen French echoed him, adding: “They’ve got a cheek to be asking for volunteers.
“If they’d like to cover my full time job while I do their work, maybe I’d consider it.”
And David Vincent, who lives alone in Hove and pays £1,235.68 a year in council tax, said: “It was a shock to see this announcement.
“Next they’ll be wanting volunteers to clean the public toilets.
“As a council taxpayer, it is not a resident’s position to do the council’s work. This has always been done by our city council.
“We know we are in hard times, but this goes beyond reproach.
“I don’t have a problem with what I pay in council tax, but to get residents to do this work for free is simply not on.”
To have the gall to ask people to do it just shows the attitude of this council. It’s shocking really.
Locals pay an average of £2,119 a year in council tax, part of which is supposed to cover the cost of weed control.
The council insists its “hardworking” Cityclean team carries out weeding throughout spring and summer, but the “labour-intensive nature of manual weeding means some areas can become overgrown”.
A spokesperson added: “Volunteers will work together to remove weeds in problem areas by carrying out weed management and vegetation control tasks.”
Laura King described the scheme as “absolute madness”.
“Are they joking?” she fumed.
“How can they expect residents to go out and start doing jobs the council is obliged to provide – especially when this is covered by the council tax?
“To have the gall to ask people to do it just shows the attitude of this council. It’s shocking really.”
Pensioner Nigel Furness, who is partially-sighted and registered disabled, agrees that the problem needs rectifying, but not by people like him.
He said: “Trying to negotiate potholes and poorly-maintained pathways in Brighton and Hove is bad enough but when you had an infestation of weeds it becomes treacherous.
“The council seems to have washed its hands of its responsibilities to the public and the failure to clear the weeds from the pavements is a huge issue for people who are disabled and old.
“It has a legal responsibility to maintain the highways and pavements and failing to do so leaves them in breach of it.”
‘ARE THEY JOKING?
Pensioners and disabled residents have allegedly required hospital treatment after tripping over weeds on the pavements.
Businesses have also hit out at the council, claiming vegetation makes the area look “scruffy” and is bad for the city’s image.
Dean Redmond said: “Wheelchair users, the partially-sighted and those who are elderly are rightly up in arms about the council’s failure to maintain the pavements and roads.
“It is discriminatory and wrong and the Greens need to start paying attention to what people actually want.
“I’d also like to ask them if when asking people to take to the streets with trowels, hoes and secateurs whether they are themselves covered if any of their volunteers is injured.”
The council insists its “weed warriors” will help make streets, twittens and other public spaces “more attractive for visitors and residents”.
In 2019, the local authority stopped using glyphosate, a harmful herbicide, to remove weeds on the streets.
Instead, officials invested in a small vehicle to get rid of pavement weeds, and claimed to employ extra staff for the street cleaning team.
Launching the scheme, Councillor Elaine Hills, co-chair of the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, said: “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.
“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.”
Brighton and Hove City Council was contacted for comment in response to the complaints.