Man with plant alarms councillors at Worthing council meeting

John Clark with the plant
John Clark with the plant

A MENACE of the plant world caused ‘distress’ at a council meeting last week when a man carried a giant sprig of Japanese knotweed into Worthing Town Hall.

Amusement turned to alarm at the full council meeting last Tuesday, when John Clark presented the specimen to councillors at public question time.

Mr Clark, of Cranleigh Avenue, Worthing, explained how the rapidly-growing plant was freely growing on council land, and asked what the council was doing to address it.

The ‘statement’ was the culmination of what Mr Clark said was a ten-year battle with Worthing Borough Council over the issue.

But instead of providing a detailed response, cabinet member for environment Clive Roberts expressed his distress at Mr Clark bringing the knotweed to the chamber.

He said: “I am very distressed that it is in here. It is irresponsible to bring it here.

“It should not be in this building, and I don’t want it in here, as we don’t know what it could do to this property.”

Mr Clark said he had a degree in botany and zoology and there was no risk in transporting it, as he had checked it for seeds.

He explained it was growing in wasteland near Brooklands, among other areas.

He said: “I think they were a bit over the top. It is growing near to properties, and it could cause real problems if it spreads.”

Mr Roberts said the council conformed to DEFRA guidelines, but would re-investigate the issue.

He said: “DEFRA guidelines state that if you have invasive plants or injurious weeds on your premises, you have a responsibility to prevent them spreading into the wild or causing a nuisance, but, you are not obliged to remove or treat invasive plants.

“Additionally you must not plant or encourage the spread of invasive plants outside of your property.

“This can include moving contaminated soil from one place to another or incorrectly handling and transporting contaminated material and plant cuttings.”