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Calls for Newmarket's growing problem to be addressed by council

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Councillors have backed the efforts of a town resident and Army officer who has waged war on Newmarket’s weed-filled and overgrown pathways.

Lt Col Jamie Lawrence, who lives in Rowley Drive, has been voluntarily tackling nettles, weeds, and litter, where he lives, at nearby St Mary’s Church, St Mary’s Square, and Wellington Street, and has been encouraging other residents to join his crusade.

“There is a limit to what I can achieve on my own,” he said and he suggested to councillors he would lead a social media campaign to try to recruit more helpers if the council could provide volunteers with litter pickers, bags and gloves.

Mayor Cllr Michael Jefferys
Mayor Cllr Michael Jefferys

At a meeting of the town council’s community and leisure services committee on Monday, while chairman Cllr Philippa Winter applauded Jamie’s efforts, councillors were highly critical of the service the town was receiving from West Suffolk Council, which it currently pays through a service agreement, to keep the town tidy and its grass verges cut.

Mayor Cllr Michael Jefferys said: “My biggest concerns are the weeds growing on the paths and roadways all over the town. People want to feel pride in their town but they can’t because there are two-foot high weeds growing in the gutters.”

Cllr John Harvey said in some areas of the town weeds were already becoming trip hazards.

Cllr Andy Drummond, who is also a member of West Suffolk Council, said the town could ask to pay for extra grass cutting but Cllr Douglas Hall said: “They have not done it at all this year and there seem to have been no road sweepers.”

Cllr Jefferys said: “I don’t accept we should have to pay extra.

“The people of Suffolk should be proud of every town in west Suffolk. It should be a priority of West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council to make our towns look good. Residents of this county are not happy about the state of their towns, It is about priorities. We want to be proud of our county and proud of our town.”

Councillors acknowledged they had to find a solution to weeds as the authority had already said it does not want to use glyphosate, a key ingredient in most commercial weed killers.

In Newmarket, Cllrs Kevin Yarrow and Rachel Hood have led the call for a complete ban on the chemical and for alternative more environmentally friendly ways of dealing with weeds on roads and pavements to be found.

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