Worries fewer cuts will allow weeds to spread

Bolton Council’s controversial grass cutting policy has led to an explosion of invasive Himalayan Balsam, it has been claimed.

Residents in Breightmet have repeatedly complained to the council about land opposite Somerton Road.

The area is now only cut twice a year and neighbours say it looks untidy – with Himalayan Balsam spreading thick and fast.

Brian Craig, aged 64, said: “It is now full of weeds and balsam. If it’s cut then the balsam doesn’t seed but it is spreading quickly now.

“There are thousands of plants down there.

Ian Hodson, aged 71, added: “I’ve written to the council but I just got a standard letter back saying it’s classed as a conservation area.

“But to me, it’s not conservation, it’s wasteland. It looks a mess.”

The Environment Agency this week warned invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed could harm the environment.

Sarah Peet, of the Environment Agency said: ” Invas ive non-native species are threatening to wipe out native plants around the North West.

“Whilst Himalayan Balsam is colourful and attractive, it often becomes so prominent it can displace native plants.”

A council spokesman said the area off Somerton Road was cut twice a year and said Himalayan Balsam is not a problem.

He added: “This will not promote the spread of Himalayan Balsam, which is an annual weed. The two cuts are a sufficient control, as the plant cannot then mature and produce seed.”

A council officer visited the site this week to take photographs.

The council said it would continue to review its grass cutting policy and investigate residents’ complaints.