After pushing the issue of unruly weeds for months to no avail, Fraserburgh and District councillor Brian Topping has taken matters into his own hands.
Despite being seriously ill in hospital due to a heart condition a few weeks ago, Mr Topping has been out in his constituency removing weeds and picking up litter.
He said the weeds in his area have become “absolutely ridiculous, a perfect disgrace, totally and utterly unacceptable.”
Great investment has been put into various areas of the town, but Mr Topping believes the town won’t be able to properly reap the benefits if the weed situation is not dealt with.
He said: “There’s been a lot of money invested, lots of exciting things are happening to improve our town to make it more attractive and welcoming, then you have the place like a jungle, weeds everywhere.”
Shout to the Top-ping
As well as weeding the area around his own home, Mr Topping has organised events including an annual beach clean to try and take control of the situation.
He has continued doing so despite his recent serious illness.
Mr Topping receives “massive amounts” of complaints daily from constituents, some even in tears at the state of Kirkton Cemetery.
The councilor admitted that he has asks himself what his council tax is being spent on, saying: “I sometimes wonder recently why I’m paying my council tax, I’m a local resident too.”
When raising the issue with different departments in the council didn’t work, he decided to take the issue up with Aberdeenshire Council’s chief executive, Jim Savege.
He sent Mr Savege an email explaining that he was “extremely disappointed” by the “shocking state” of Fraserburgh and the surrounding areas.
The two then had a conversation over Skype, where Mr Topping asked that a work plan be proposed for dealing with the problem.
He said that, if there was a reason why the weeds had been allowed to get to such an “unacceptable” state, he thought the council should share it.
“If there are good reasons for the delay in getting the weeds done let the local councillors know, let the public and local businesses know.”
“We can’t keep blaming Covid”
Though weeds have been an issue for years, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the services that were in place to control them.
Mr Topping said: “We can’t keep blaming Covid. It has an effect on council services, but we can’t keep using is as an excuse.”
Though last summer many people were self-isolating or needed for other roles, reducing services, this year is different.
The councillor said that the staff responsible for the areas where the weeds have become unruly should be acting on it before complaints come in.
He said: “Staff that are responsible, whether it’s at the cemetery or the playpark or the weeds on the roads, they should be seeing this.
“I’m not criticising the amazing staff the council has, but the senior staff who organise things should be seeing these things, they shouldn’t need the public or me as a councillor to complain.”
Aberdeenshire Council has confirmed that they are now spraying weeds in the area, but noted that it would take time before the effects start to show.
A spokesperson from the council said: “Our landscape staff are currently spraying weeds on the streets of Fraserburgh and surrounding areas.
“The glyphosate-based herbicide that we use targets the green leafy tissue of the plant before travelling to the roots, so there first must be growth before the chemicals can take effect. Once treated, it will take between 10 to 14 days for the herbicide to take effect.
“We appreciate that weed spraying is important to our communities and elected members, and we are working to resolve this issue as effectively as we can.”