Weeding in VG – meeting with Cllr. Brathwaite

About a month after our initial weeding action (end of April) which was ‘inspected’ and approved by Keith Naish, things got rather confusing again. Lambeth weed sprayers came to do some ‘spot spraying’ and emails were sent (but not necessarily to all the relevant parties) warning us that unless more hand weeding was done to prevent resurgent weed growth, chemical spraying would have to be done. However, looking around Vauxhall Grove’s pavements there seemed to be little evidence of rampant weed growth that might represent a trip or skid hazard, so a couple of residents from VG and BS got in touch with Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite (Cabinet member for Environment and Transport and responsible for delivering the council’s ‘Our Streets’ programme of community-led public realm improvements) to straighten things out. Another aim was to make sure that in future certain community stakeholders such as our two community gardens and Vine Housing Co-op would be informed by Lambeth in advance about any weeding issues. The meeting was very cordial and Cllr Brathwaite showed real interest and appreciation of our neighbourhood. The up-shot is that we’re now on her radar and hopefully in future there will be proper engagement with our community, so we don’t wake up one morning to public notices on our trees telling us that they will be felled in a week’s time, or similarly unpleasant shocks to the system. Please see below the notes we took at our meeting with Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite.

Notes on meeting between Councillor Brathwaite and residents of Vauxhall Grove and Bonnigton Square

at 17 Vauxhall Grove 7 July 2016.

Present:  Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite

Pat Holland, Andrea Hoffling, John Mullineaux Vauxhall Grove residents and members of Vine Housing Co-op

Victoria Conran Bonnington Square resident.

We discussed three areas:

Liaison with Lambeth:

Questions of liaison between Lambeth and the local community, with special reference to recent activities concerning the control of weeds in the pavements:

We thought that when issues crop up (eg an inspection that reveals that weeding needs to be done) Lambeth should contact local organisations which can then inform their members:

Vine Housing Co-op: vinecoop@btinternet.com

Harleyford Road Garden Association: c/o secretary Andrew Gleave-Coley: gleavecoley@btinternet.com

Bonnington Square Garden Association: c/o secretary Elliot Kemp: elliotkemp@gmail.com

If inspections take place the local community should be informed so representatives can be present and problems can be pointed out and solutions agreed (eg a particular area needs weeding).

Residents of the community require clear information and exact criteria concerning the location, species and density of weed growth for effective collaboration between Lambeth Council, Veolia and residents in order to control weeds now and in the future.

ACTION: Councillor Brathwaite said she would follow up the communications from Keith Naish to clarify this issue and report back to us.

When Keith Naish inspected our work on 29 April he said that the only consideration was whether the pavements were made hazardous because of the weeds. He was satisfied with our work.

ACTION: We are forwarding his recent request (5 July) for more weeding, together with Victoria’s reply. Cllr Brathwaite said she’ll contact him.

Chemical weed killers:

Vic explained the problems with the various chemical weed killers in general use and gave Cllr Brathwaite some background information. Vic also requested that Cllr B find out which chemicals are in use to control weeds.

ACTION: Councillor Brathwaite said she would report back with answers to the question of which chemicals are in use to control weeds on streets.

Longer term issues concerning Vauxhall Grove and Bonnington Square, especially the re-paving plans.  We discussed the notice from Lambeth headed ‘What’s happening in my road’  which had recently been circulated to households.

It refers to ‘carriageway re-surfacing’ from 20 July and may mean that work on trees and pavements in Bonnington Square will begin then.

ACTION: Cllr Brathwaite will send us the list from the Highways Improvements Programme which lists which streets are due to be worked on and when works are due.

She explained that the responsibility for street services, probably including weeding, will be coming under Veolia instead of Lambeth StreetCare from around October. Currently Veolia run services such as rubbish collection, recycling and street cleaning.

ACTION: Cllr Brathwaite wants to arrange it so that all their services (rubbish collection, weeds etc) are organised in local teams, so that they can get to know their locality and liaise with local residents regularly.

ACTION: She is keen to initiate face to face meetings with local residents and Veolia to ensure smooth communications once Veolia have taken over services, as we will need to set up links with them.

At the moment it is unclear if Veolia will be responsible for weed clearing and she will report back to us once she has found out.

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