Bolton Council is to bring the battle against weeds in-house after the cost of its contractor soared 60 per cent in the space of a year and a half.

The council contracted the service 20 years ago in an attempt to improve its efficiency in a move made by a lot of other authorities at the time.

Recently, according to a report for consideration by cabinet member for climate change and the environment Richard Silvester, the cost of its contractor soared 60 per cent in the space of a year and a half from around £75,000 per year to around £120,000 per year. This a result of the cost of consumables including weedkiller.

It came at around the same time as the council became concerned about the quality of the weedkilling, which is supposed to take place on all adopted paths and all adopted roads at least twice a year, in early spring and in early summer.

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Cllr Silvester said: "If we bring it in-house we know what is happening out there on the streets.

"I have had casework from residents in my ward [Queens Park and Central Ward] where the streets at this moment in time are full of weeds, and they should've received their first spraying, but the service doesn't know if they've received their first spraying. 

"If we bring it in-house we know if they have had their first spraying and their second spraying.

"I am looking forward to our team undertaking this service in-house next year."

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The change calls for the lease or the purchase of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), or quad bikes, as well as the recruitment of two staff and the training of these staff and others already in employment to cover for planned absences and unplanned absences. Its cost is estimated at around £120,000 per year, around the same as it is at the moment, but the council believes it can control this cost better into the future.

The change comes into effect on April 1 next year.

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.