Weedkiller mistake turns Gorleston grass brown

Gorleston Cliffs, where residents are concerned about weedkiller use. Photo: Charles Shelbourne

Gorleston Cliffs, where residents are concerned about weedkiller use. Photo: Charles Shelbourne - Credit: Supplied

Weedkiller sprayed in the wrong place in Gorleston turned the grass in a popular tourist spot brown.

Weedkiller has replaced strimming across the borough in a cost-cutting measure delivered by the Great Yarmouth Borough Council's operational partner, GYB Services Ltd.

However, high profile areas - such as Gorleston cliffs - were supposed to escape the use of the chemical.

After residents complained GYB Services admitted they made a mistake, and said they would put it right at their expense.

People living in the affected areas noticed workers had stopped using strimmers to control the grass, and took to social networking site Streetlife to air their worries.

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Now, they have raised concerns about the safety of the chemical, and the effect it could have on animals and plants.

Nigel Shelton, a teacher from Hopton, said the use of the weedkiller was 'nothing more than a sanctioned vandalism of the assets of the town by the very people who are tasked with its care and protection.

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'There seems to be a tremendous amount of uproar in the dreadful way that the grass verges now look around our town. What a dreadful example we must be seen to be, to our thousands of holiday-makers.'

Mr Shelton found - through a Freedom of Information Request - that 975 litres of the substance called Gallup Hi-Active Biograde had already been used in the borough this year.

And that more spraying was planned, dependent on the weather conditions.

He added: 'I am a dog owner and I am not satisfied that it is safe for my dog to walk on freshly treated areas and then to groom itself afterwards.

'My dog has suffered from diarrhoea immediately following treatment of the grass verges but, of course, there is no way that I can link this to the use of this toxin in the borough.'

Steve Taylor, of Clarence Road, said: 'Speaking to grounds staff, they suggest the reason for areas being sprayed with weedkiller is because they are under instruction not to use strimmers around obstructions because of the time strimming takes.

'I do believe that public bodies taking from the public purse are wrapping themselves up too readily in the defence of 'we're doing this to save you money', if that is so, then time to show how this is being done.'

Another concern was the chemical may end up in the water system.

In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: 'For many years, spraying has taken place across the borough to clear concrete gulleys and surfaced areas. This herbicide is in common use by councils, private businesses, farmers and householders across the UK and abroad. It is licensed for use in areas to which the public and animals have access.

'Due to the financial challenges across the public sector, a trial took place last year on the option of additionally spraying around obstructions and along fence lines in grass areas as an alternative to - or in conjunction with - strimming. This approach is a recognised, cost-effective method of grass maintenance, which is employed by many local authorities. This year, it was decided to follow this approach across the borough, with the exception of high profile locations.

'Gorleston cliffs is one of the high profile sites on which the grass areas were never intended to be sprayed. The council's operational partner, GYB Services Ltd, has accepted responsibility for both the error in undertaking this work and the extent to which the grass areas were affected. A programme of works will commence shortly at the company's expense to rectify the damage caused.'

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