Well, you've certainly made two converts, nedsram, since I wasn't really aware of this problem until you highlighted it. At the end of the summer before last, my other half and I had noticed the plant in quantity at the side of Occupier's Lane, which leads to Hazel Grove Golf Club's club house, and I knew it was unfamiliar, but didn't know what it was and had no idea that it spread so virulently.
Now we do, and the other half and I spent a while ripping this year's growth up from a patch of the laneside just west of the club house while we were out walking last Sunday evening. Fortunately, being an annual and preferring damp places, it's shallow-rooted, and comes up easily. The problem is just the sheer amount of the stuff. Curiously, though, there didn't seem to be as much of it about as there was last year - at least so far - although there's been no treatment of it there, as far as I know.
I sent an e-mail to that councillor explaining how invasive the thing can be - she's not a gardening buff or countryside obsessive like me! - and suggesting that effective tackling of the problem in Bramall Park/Happy Valley will really require co-operation between Stockport and East Cheshire, as streams and balsam seeds are no respecters of municipal boundaries, and, if the Poynton infestation isn't sorted, there'll be no hope of finally eradicating the stuff downstream - it'll just be an endless holding operation. I forgot to mention to her the infestation near Middlewood station, where the same need for co-operation arises, since the Norbury brook is the boundary between the two authorities up there too. It'll be particularly sad if the stuff infests the brook banks near me, as the stretch of stream between Norbury Hollow and Norbury old mill is Woodland Trust-listed, never-cultivated ancient woodland, and at this time of year is filled - despite kids using it for mountain-biking! - with native bluebells and wild garlic. Not much chance of those surviving the balsam.
But I doubt that, particularly in the present financial climate, there'll be a serious attempt to tackle it by the local authorities, because, although the thing's invasive, it's relatively benign - at least in comparison with Japanese knotweed. Today's papers - see the "Daily Wail", for instance - report that a guy in Cornwall had his attempt to remortgage his house rejected because he's got the dreaded knotweed in his garden. The building society's told him his house is unsaleable. Nasty though it is, balsam doesn't cause problems like that, and because it doesn't, I doubt councils will have the will to put enough resources into the really systematic and thoroughgoing eradication that would be necessary to make a real difference.
Rhydd i bob meddwl ei farn, ac i bob barn ei llafar ...