The issue of weeds raised its thorny head at Craigavon Borough Council on Monday night, with all the parties united on rooting out the problem.
Councillor Philip Moutray said he had received an “unprecedented” number of complaints while his party colleague Darryn Causby said he couldn’t recall such a “ruckus” since the time the council stopped cutting grass in some areas.
In that case, the issue was resolved when the council resumed cutting, but the weeds problem could prove more difficult, with co-operation needed from two other statutory organisations - Roads Service and the Housing Executive.
Councillors agreed a motion that the technical services department should co-ordinate a meeting with both agencies, with the aim being to ‘discuss a robust way of tackling the weeds epidemic ... and devise a spraying regime’.
Two amendments were added so the motion would include the cutting of grass verges, after concern was expressed by Cllr Mark Baxter about the danger of overgrown grass at junctions, particularly in rural areas.
The other, proposed by Cllr Gemma McKenna, was that the ABC shadow council will be informed of any recommendation.
Councillor Joe Nelson said he had been aware of the weed problem for some time and had continued to “battle” with the other two agencies.
He explained, “Getting answers from Roads Service and the Housing Executive is very difficult. They both need to step up their customer service.”
Councillor Jonathan Buckley agreed, saying, “surely the agencies involved know this is a problem at this time of year”.
Councillor Causby said “robust action needed to be taken very quickly”. He added, “Residents are paying rates and they are having to go out and clear up themselves.”
Cllr Mc Kenna said weeds make an area unsightly while Cllr Gladys McCullough highlighted the roundabouts on approach to the town.
However, she said she was from an era of “do it yourself” and would encourage more people to take care of their neighbourhoods.
UUP councillor Kenneth Twyble recalled when the council ran a best kept estates competition and residents’ pride in their areas.
“I would like to go back to those days, when people didn’t rely entirely on public authorities,” he added.
Alliance councillor Conrad Dixon said that weeds were not just unsightly but unsafe, as they broke up pavements and interfered with road signs.