join donate discuss

Greens call out Labour councillors for signing national charity’s pesticide pledge as Labour propose return of toxic weedkiller spray   

Toxix weedkiller hypocrisy Labour pledge

Nine Labour Councillors, Cllrs Robinson, Williams, Fowler, Evans, Grimshaw, Miller, O’Quinn, Wilkinson and Alexander are signatories to Pesticide Action Network UK’s pesticide pledge

Nine Labour Councillors, Cllrs Robinson, Williams, Fowler, Evans, Grimshaw, Miller, O’Quinn, Wilkinson and Alexander are signatories to Pesticide Action Network UK’s pesticide pledge

Greens have hit back at the Labour Council for putting residents’ health at risk by exploring the use of toxic weedkiller spray, glyphosate, in the city – despite sitting councillors signing a pledge from national charity Pesticide Action Network UK. 

A decision to stop using the harmful pesticide was agreed by Labour Councillors in 2019, with the then Labour Chair of Environment Committee declaring Brighton & Hove would become a ‘pesticide free city.’ [1] Labour Councillors and other activists – including nine currently elected councillors – all took a public pledge to take steps to tackle pesticide use in the city in support of UK charity Pesticide Action Network UK. 

A report going to the city’s Environment committee next week suggests councillors should look to overturn current council policy to end the use of glyphosate and consider the possibility of six to eight weeks of glyphosate spraying to tackle the city’s weeds at a potential cost of £110,000. 

Glyphosate has been classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and has also been linked to increased risk of asthma with particular harm caused to children. Glyphosate spraying has also been identified as toxic to water systems, harming local insect and plant life, in particular the survival of vital pollinators such as bees. [2]  

Greens say a three-year ‘phase out plan’ – as detailed by Pesticide Action Network UK – suggesting a variety of approaches that can also bring down costs – could still be explored as an alternative to the sudden reintroduction of glyphosate. [3]

The 2023 Labour election manifesto reads: “We won’t return to the use of harmful glyphosates.”   

Green Councillor Kerry Pickett, opposition spokesperson for Environment committee, commented:  “I cannot understand how the same Labour Councillors who previously labelled glyphosate ‘toxic,’ and ‘poisonous,’ brought in a local ban and signed a national charity pledge are suddenly ok with spraying our city’s pavements and roads with this health-damaging chemical.

“Labour Councillors have been outspoken about this – with Council leader Bella Sankey even stating in the election campaign she felt “the council quite rightly stopped spraying weeds with poisonous chemicals.” Nine sitting councillors put their name to the Pesticide Action Network UK pledge and all of them ran on a manifesto promise of ‘no return to glyphosate.’ [4]

“Either they think it’s toxic enough to ban, or they don’t. It’s vital our pavements are accessible to all – Labour claimed they would tackle this but can’t seem to do so without subjecting us all – and particularly our children – to health-wrecking chemicals which is a false choice.

“Any u-turn on this will be a shameful betrayal of trust. Given there are a series of options in their report, we urge Labour to vote against the return of glyphosate and to work with Pesticide Action Network UK to bring in a longer term, phased approach to managing weeds through non-chemical alternatives.”  

Notes

[1] Council promises to be pesticide-free by 2022 (brighton-hove.gov.uk)  
 
[2] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/02/glyphosate-weedkiller-damages-wild-bumblebee-colonies  
   
[3] Information for local authorities – Pesticide Action Network UK (pan-uk.org) 
 
[4] Hove Labour candidate calls for action on ‘dangerous’ weeds | The Argus