Invasion of the weeds: Greenwich councillor says sorry

A senior Greenwich councillor has apologised for the weeds springing up across the area, blaming failings by the firm contracted to apply weedkiller across the borough’s pavements.

Environment cabinet member Maureen O’Mara said the council was having to bring a new contractor in to finish the job after foot-high plants started to appear in some parts of the borough.

“I apologise to the residents of the borough – the political buck stops with me,” she told last night’s Greenwich Council meeting.

“We didn’t get it right this year, and when you don’t get it right, you should say so, and get it sorted out, which is what we’re doing.”

In a written answer to Conservative councillor Matt Clare, she said a company had been engaged in March to apply a treatment called Dual to the borough’s streets.

But while the treatment is known to be effective, 853 understands the unnamed company – which was selected because it offered the cheapest tender – only applied it to existing weeds – but not as a preventative measure on other parts of the pavement, leading to the green growths springing up across local streets. (The photos here were taken in Harraden Road, Kidbrooke, on Thursday afternoon.)

“The unsatisfactory quality of the treatment was primarily due to the way in which the weed killing chemicals were being applied by the contractor, rather than the product itself,” Cllr O’Mara said, adding that a new contractor was at work and should complete the job within two weeks.

“Our own teams will also continue to undertake additional weed control works on some sites, and will gradually remove dead weeds as part of the street cleansing operation.”

It’s the second time in just over two years Cllr O’Mara has had to apologise for weed-strewn streets – in July 2009 she said sorry after the council struggled with adapting to new regulations on weedkillers.

Invited by Conservative councillors to pose for a photograph for Greenwich Time with the weeds in their Eltham wards, and to repeat the apology in the council weekly, joked: “I don’t want to stand with inanimate objects.

“If I get a look at these weeds, I’ll pull them out myself.”

Cllr O’Mara added: “I am sure my apology will be noted in the local press.”

However, neither the Mercury nor the News Shopper were present at last night’s meeting.

Hear Conservative leader Spencer Drury discuss the issue with Maureen O’Mara:

Also at last night’s meeting:

Hear council leader Chris Roberts discuss the council leader and chief executive getting VIP passes for the Olympic Games with Conservative Adam Thomas:

Chris Roberts also defended Greenwich Time under questioning from Conservative Matt Clare:


  1. I am so glad to see an explanation to why there is a tropical jungle growing in my street. I complained to the council street team via email about three or four weeks ago and received no response at all.

  2. So how many Council-employee hours went into preparing and evaluating the tender?
    What supervision was include in the contract?
    Was the matter of spraying areas without weeds included in the contract?
    But is that a valid explanation? Over many years we have had people coming down our street spraying weeds. It has always seemed to be effecective – but they only ever sprayed weeds. Surely to spray everywhere else would take a ‘spraying machine’ of some sort – which might not be good for my car’s paintwork?
    Maybe they just spayed too soon (before the weeds had appeared)?
    Maybe the Council are just are not very effective.

  3. It is just another excuse I’m afraid. Last year I complained to the council on exactly the same subject and was told that the weed killer that they had bought hadn’t had a proper environmental impact assessment so they couldn’t use the weed killer they had bought! I kid you not.

    With regards to overgrown grass verges, I have also had the excuses that I was wrong and the grass had been cut (It blatantly hadn’t) and that the lawn mowers had been stolen. Those excuses are on a par with “the dog ate my homework, sir.”

    So, considering that they have already used those excuses I suppose it is easier to blame someone else.

  4. Are we not witnessing a repetition of this issue yet again – just like in 2016. Streets full of weeds again,

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