PAYING to prevent weeds growing uncontrollably on our roads could come at the expense of subsidising popular events like Golowan, warns a former Penzance mayor.
As Cornwall Council continues to prune its spending, councillors agreed towards the end of 2013 to put an end to the general spraying of the highways with herbicide from the start of the 2014-15 financial year.
As a result, Jeremy Edwards, the council's highways network manager, has written to local town and parish councils suggesting they take on the service themselves.
"Currently we have a number of weed treatment agency agreements in town and parish council areas," he said.
"This year we are paying £160.61 per km, but these arrangements will not be continued into the next financial year.
"As we are unable to do the work we are offering all local authorities the opportunity to deliver this service themselves, albeit at their own expense."
Mr Edwards added that contractors would need to be qualified to work on the highway, hold suitable current risk assessments and could only use Cornwall Council-approved herbicides. However, former mayor and current Penzance town councillor, Dennis Axford, fears the effect of this latest cost-cutting measure will be significant.
"In the grand scheme of things, this may not seem that important, but if you just think about it, uncontrolled weeds lining every urban roadside is not the most pleasant sight," he said.
"If anything is guaranteed to ensure an area looks rundown, uncared for and desolate, that is going to be it."
And Mr Axford believes that if Penzance Town Council does take the service on it will be at the expense of other services and budgets.
"If town and parish councils want to take this work on or contract it out, the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere. But councils are not awash with money, as more and more services are discontinued by Cornwall Council.
"Whatever happened to 'economy of scale' on which Cornwall Council was formed?
"Money available to do the things that people enjoy rather than just need will be eaten into. In Penzance budgets for the likes of the Christmas lights, Golowan and many other events that make our town what it is, will be impacted upon and life will be a little sadder for it."