'Actions are being undertaken' to revive plant life on Brighton's green wall

An investigation has been ordered into why contractors cut a historic green wall back to its roots in Madeira Drive on Brighton seafront.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 9:48 pm
Updated Friday, 30th April 2021, 12:06 am
The area of the green wall which has been cut back, captured on Google streetview, before it was cut back

Brighton and Hove City Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said that he had approved the investigation into why workers cut back the green wall at Duke’s Mound so severely.

And a review of how the decisions were made is to be considered by the council’s Audit and Standards Committee.

The Green council leader gave details of the investigation at a virtual meeting of the Policy and Resources (Recovery) Sub-Committee yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, April 28).

The move follows an outcry across social media platforms – and a ceremonial funeral for the green wall.

Councillor Mac Cafferty said that the excessive pruning had not been approved by councillors.

He said: “Most importantly, our focus has been on how the teams on the ground can rapidly scale up work to revive the greenery on this section of the wall.

“My fellow councillor Jamie Lloyd has met with Building Green – and their expertise and positive contribution is invaluable.

“A series of actions are being undertaken to help revive the plant life and we will, of course, be monitoring this extremely closely and pushing for updates to all councillors.

“Needless to say, however, we are profoundly disappointed that this happened and we are determined to act to uphold the high environmental standards our city expects and deserves.

“That means now we are developing a future management plan for the whole of the wall in liaison with Building Green.”

The council’s executive director for the economy, environment and culture Nick Hibberd apologised for what happened.

He said that a proposal to cut back the vegetation had been included in the detailed plans for the revamp of Black Rock after a road safety audit.

But he said that the cutback was 'excessive' and that officers had not consulted councillors and stakeholders as they should have.

He said that the decision-making and sign-off for the pruning would be looked at as part of a full audit investigation into what had happened.

Mr Hibberd: “The review will identify if there are any contractual issues that need to be addressed or whether any planning or wildlife rules were broken when this happened.

“The outcomes of the review will be reported to the councillors through the Black Rock cross-party project board.”

He said that the Building Green voluntary group should have been consulted and the project team had since been spoken with.

The fig bush and Japanese spindle were resilient plants, Mr Hibberd said, and regrowth had started already.