Hastings ‘horrified by the county council’s use of toxic chemical on our streets’

Hastings Borough Council is calling for the county council to abandon its use of the weedkiller glyphosate.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 2:28 pm
File: Muriel Matters House (Hastings Borough Council offices). SUS-210316-151635001

Cllr Maya Evans, the borough council’s lead councillor for the environment, said the authority is supporting residents who are opposed to the use of the chemical.

She said: “East Sussex County Council is responsible for maintaining our roads and most of our pavements and are currently choosing to use glyphosate as a weed control.

“We have already asked whether an alternative can be used, they claim that their budget is insufficient to remove street plants (weeds) by more environmentally friendly methods such as ‘grubbing out’.

“Since becoming the lead member for natural environment, I have been working hard to find an alternative, and we are looking for Hastings Borough Council to take on the responsibility for maintaining street plants.

“Street plant maintenance sits within a bigger vision around how we can maximise biodiversity, and promote plants which are particularly supportive of local wildlife.

“Hastings Borough Council does not agree with the use of glyphosate on our streets, we have previously passed motions pledging to supporting pollinating insects, especially bees.

“We are horrified by the county council’s use of this toxic chemical on our streets, we are aware of the impact it has on the natural environment, and the potential risk it poses to human health.

“We are working hard behind the scenes to take radical action. Hastings Borough Council is dissatisfied with choices made by East Sussex County Council, and we are taking practical steps to take our town back, and to run it so that people and planet are prioritised and protected.

“In the meantime, where individual streets have asked to take on responsibility for maintain street plants by removing them themselves, we strongly believe they should be allowed to do so.

“It is ridiculous for East Sussex County Council to spend money spraying the streets with glyphosate when local residents are happy to do the weeding themselves.”

An East Sussex County Council’s spokesman said: “We currently carry out one weed spray a year on channels, kerbs and footpaths in Hastings using glyphosate, a Health & Safety Executive approved and registered product.

“The glyphosate is heavily diluted and spraying is carefully controlled and limited in use to only where weeds are present. The county council has a legal obligation to maintain public roads, which includes weed control, and up until recent years Hastings Borough Council used to carry out this responsibility on behalf of the county council.

“The use of glyphosate was reviewed by the lead member for transport and environment in September last year, who confirmed its use until a suitable alternative becomes available.

“We will continue our work with other authorities to find an alternative solution to controlling weeds, but these are currently limited and at this time do not provide us with options that are suitable for use on the county’s road network.

“A number of borough and district authorities are trialling other techniques in smaller areas such as parks, gardens and public open spaces, but with over 5,000 streets to look after the county council will need to be satisfied that an alternative solution works effectively on all of the roads across the county and not just a few.”