Wednesday 17 July 2024
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Plans to bring weed spraying in-house after recent work went ‘horribly wrong’

The work involves weed spraying on highways, pedestrian routes and verges, including on public kerbsides.

Mansfield District Council plans to train 24 workers to carry out weed spraying after admitting recent contracted work was “intermittent and patchy”.

The authority’s portfolio holder for the environment was quizzed at Tuesday’s full council meeting after one councillor described recent work as going “horribly wrong”.

The council undertakes weed spraying on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council, allocating more than £160,000 to the work each year.

But the authority says work conducted by a contractor between July and September did not meet its expectations, with park officers finding “hotspots” where weeds were still prevalent.

Councillors were told the district-wide work was “unsatisfactory”, caused in part by hot weather conditions and because the application of weed spray on kerbsides had been “ineffective”.

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The council now plans to train officers in conducting weed spraying in-house to “mitigate the risk” of it continuing.

Councillor Andy Burgin (Lab), the authority’s environment portfolio holder, said: “I acknowledge the performance of our weed spraying contract has not met our expectations this year.

“Intermittent and patchy take-up of the kerbside [was] apparent, with areas monitored by park’s officers and hotspots fed back to the contractors.

“However, the result continued to be unsatisfactory, partly to do with hot weather conditions and ineffective kerbside application.

“At the beginning of September, the contractor confirmed it had completed weed spraying across the district, including remedial work.

“Recleansing will follow to clear dead vegetation, as originally planned, but not with the anticipated timescales.

“To mitigate the risk of this situation continuing, 24 neighbourhood services operatives are to be trained, to increase in-house capacity for doing this.”

Cllr Martin Wright (Mans Ind), who raised the issue and described the weed works as going “horribly wrong”, welcomed the news.

He said: “I don’t think this surprises many people, but I think this needed to get out in the public domain.

“[Mansfield Independents group leader] Councillor Barton and I have been making the case for the return to the annual weed spraying programme in-house for several years.

“I’m glad to see this is likely to happen in future, providing of course we don’t cut back on grass cutting and street cleaning if staff [in these departments] are involved.”

Cllr Burgin confirmed the weed spraying process will be reviewed in 2022-23.

This, he adds, is subject to the county council confirming contractual arrangements with the district councils, and “our appetite of delivering this work”.

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