Concerns about the spread of a pernicious weed, Mare’s Tail, and a reduced frequency of grass cutting around allotments by town council staff was raised at a conference earlier this month.
An allotment holder from Framfield Road West said he had noticed work on shared pathways between allotments was greatly diminished and asked whether this was still grounds staff responsibility.
Others also asked why the grass was not being cut as regularly and said they were having problems with cuttings from strimming flying on to their plots.
The council’s chairman of environment and leisure committee, Cllr Mick Dean (Trust Independent, New Town) said there had been delays over the summer due to staff availablility, work load and the weather.
He told conference attendees that he was also an allotment tenant and shared their concerns. He said that cut a small path adjacent to his own plot because of the problems with the strimmer damaging crops that may be overhanging the path and the grass cuttings flying on the plot.
Cllr Dean suggested that any tenant who wished to cut the paths next to their plot could do so and that tenants advise ground staff accordingly via the town council offices.
Mr D. Jennings, from West Park allotments, said that the edge of one plot bordering the central pathway there was infested with the deep-rooted Mare’s Tail weed and allotment holders to the west of it were concerned about migration to plots there.
He said: “We are all striving to prevent any ingress, but it needs the assistance of the council to eradicate it before it becomes a major issue.
“The same applies to the plots on the east side where they border the fence where the stream is and where the problem originated.”
Cllr Dean said Mare’s Tail was also found at Bird in Eye allotment and agreed the weed was a continuing problem and that he did not know what the solution was other than digging it out which was not easy.
He suggested a first step might be for the council to contact other authorities to ask how they dealt with the problem and then advise accordingly any information received which would assist both ground staff and tenants when treating the weed.
Mr Jennings said he appreciated all the work staff had already undertaken but he believed a more robust solution was required. He had been away for three weeks and in that time the weed had spread considerably over the allotments.
Some tenants at West Park said that when a vacant plot and path, which had Mare’s Tail were strimmed a lot of the cuttings flew onto their plots and they asked if more care could be taken by ground staff whens strimming.
Another problem raised by tenants was dog mess not being cleared from pathways by the animals’ owners, and also the control of some dogs at Framfield Road allotments.
Cllr Dean agreed there had been a problem at Bird in Eye allotments and a sign had been placed on the gate. He also suggested that a reminder of rules and regulations regarding keeping dogs under control could be enclosed with annual invoices.
There were also concerns about unused plots being allowed to get over-grown with weeds going to seed and blowing over well-tended plots and about brambles/netles growing over a fence line and encroaching onto the communal path from land at the bottom of Framfield Road East making it difficult to walk along the pathway.
Cllr Dean said a report would be sent to ground staff about this so they could be cut back as soon as possible.