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Airports, Weeds and the UK Smoking Ban

One a recent trip to South West France to meet with a business associate, my trip obviously took me to a small regional airport. The airport buildings were rustic compared to Heathrow and Gatwick and undergoing development to cope with the demand in use mainly from British people with primary and secondary residences in the area.

The building surrounds were weedy and untidy, not making a great impression to a traveller. The grass areas surrounding the airport buildings and car parks were also full of weeds and exhibiting an air of being unkempt.

It stuck me that this is a very common visual in rural France but not a common sight on the Auto Routes where the income generated from the tolls enabled a proper and correct maintenance regime to be performed which includes weed control to the roads and pathways.

The weed problems viewed at this small airport is common place back in Britain too. Why is it that those responsible for the upkeep of so many public areas never appear to notice that the annual weeds are getting out of control around the buildings and open spaces; Weeds in paths can quickly become a trip hazard to users and a fire hazard too and will in time, left to develop, destroy the fabric of the building and hard landscaped areas costing the owner more money in the long term than the cost of eradication at the time.

With the ban on smoking within public buildings coming into force in Great Britain in July looming, no doubt we will see these weeds inter dispersed with discarded cigarette butts by smokers who have been banished to pursue their habit in the great outdoors. Some establishments have already constructed non permanent structures adjoining their existing premises that those smokers who just can not give up the weed can use with some protection of the elements of the weather. Very few have undertaken improvements to the external visual appearance of their gardens and open spaces, failing to recognise that once the smoking ban comes into force, so many more people will visit the local pub who would not before because of the smokiness inside and maybe want to use the garden – weeds and fag buts and all! The cost of treating an area for weeds in paths and car parks or on lawns is not a drain on financial resources but an instant make over for a slightly neglected site. When I visit a facility, the first recommendation made to the client is to ‘clean the site up, get rid of the weeds and see what you have got left to play with’. It is often the most cost effective initial task with maximum impact and first impressions count. A half hour delays out to France and an hour back home on my recent trip so an extra contribution of my time and effort of one and a half hours that I cannot be compensated for.FlyBe are not alone. A recent trip to Glasgow with British Airways took almost twice as long as scheduled to achieve and almost an hour to get the baggage back at Heathrow. More wasted time and more time for the weeds to grow under your feet so perhaps this is why they appear to grow so quick unnoticed and unchecked, the problem is far bigger than I initially thought……


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