Neil Hickland, left, with Ken Hodgson on Rhodes St, Carterton. PHOTOS/KAREN COLTMAN
Carterton man Ken Hodgson is calling his town the ‘weed capital of Wairarapa’ and fellow resident Neil Hickland says it “definitely has the best weed in town”.
“Carterton is a place where you can grow ‘weed’ without interference. It grows in abundance in well-designed troughs, is easily accessible, it is well watered naturally and is fed with local compost,” said Hodgson.
He notes that it is also free.
Hodgson and Hickland are not talking about cannabis, but weeds growing in the gutters and on the footpaths. They feel the council is not doing enough to keep them under control.
The two retired men want the council to get their contractors to get on top of the situation because the weeds make their town look bad.
“This is our high road, with the Wild Oats cafe probably the busiest place in town, and we have tourists here, but all the weeds in the gutters and blocked gutters look a mess, it’s a disgrace,” Hickland said.
“The weeds are everywhere just growing up the road and thistles in the middle of the footpath.
“The council is not looking after their paths.”
The two men pointed out to the Times-Age weeds growing in gutters and on the footpaths on Pembroke St, Rhodes St, High St North, Broadway, McKenzie Terrace and Wheatstone St.
Along with questions about weed control, Hodgson asked the Carterton District Council under the Official Information Act what plans it had to repair footpaths that he said had cracks and uneven areas on the streets he walked down.
In its response on October 21, the council said it assessed the footpaths every three years and any issues raised by residents were acted upon within budget allowances.
Both Hodgson and Hickland said the general state of many footpaths meant they were dangerous.
“To walk up a footpath around here is waiting for an accident to happen,” Hickland said.
“A mate of mine now can’t walk down the footpath as it is too uneven, so he walks on the road.”
Hickland was particularly annoyed about overhanging trees and hedges obstructing the footpaths.
He was aware the council required residents to keep them trimmed back.
“The hedge just north of the roundabout is taking up half of the footpath. The council trimmed it, but not enough.”
In response to the issues raised, the council said it would be happy to hard prune back such a hedge, should any resident approach it directly with a request.
“Residents are asked to maintain hedges on their own properties which may overgrow on to footpaths and we will be issuing a number of overhanging branch notices in the coming weeks.”
To manage the weed issue, parks and reserves manager Clinton Thompson said his team had been steaming weeds and following up with bio-spray.
“Spraying and physical weed control is currently in full effect,” Thompson said.
“The growth of the town over the last few years has seen the workload of berm mowing and weed control grow significantly, and our staff have been working overtime for the past two weekends to complete the mowing circuit and to weed-eat the weed around trees in preparation for spraying.”
A casual worker has been employed to help complete the work during the busy season, and overtime was scheduled over the weekend, with staff working on Saturday and Sunday to deal with the weeds.
“Weeds in areas where we have steamed and physically removed them have started to emerge again in a short time,” he said.
Thompson said there were other factors that had added to the time involved with these operations.
As part of the roading contract, Fulton Hogan sprayed the kerb and the roadside channel with glyphosate but the council did it now and was attempting to reduce the amount of glyphosate and pre-emergent
While the council was committed to switching to a cleaner and greener methodology, Thompson said this came with challenges.
“The mode of action of glyphosate is systemic and is translocated through the plant and kills the roots.
“The pre-emergent kills subsequent germinations of seed.
“The difference between the old methodology and the new is that all the new methods only take care of the plant above ground and do not kill the roots.
“The bio herbicide is a desiccant.
“This new methodology will require significantly more time and resources and are labour intensive.”
He said there had been an extremely good spring for plant growth, and this had exacerbated the issue.