All-party group of councillors calls in glyphosate decision

Last Wednesday (12 January 2022), the council’s Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change approved a decision to continue the use of the controversial chemical glyphosate as the principal method of weed control in York.

An all-party group of councillors, concerned about the impact of glyphosate on bees and other pollinators, called the decision in for review. 

York Green Party Chair Tom Franklin says: 

“York Green Party welcomes the call-in from the rainbow coalition for pollinators. The Greens have opposed the use of glyphosate for years, including passing a council motion calling for greater protection for our pollinators in 2019. 

We lobbied the executive member responsible for the decision to end the use of glyphosate within York. Whilst our concerns were acknowledged, we did not feel they were reflected in the formal decision.

The use of glyphosate is already banned in France, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal and parts of Spain. Several local authorities in the UK are committed to the end of its use. It will be phased out in the whole EU from this December, and manufacturer Bayer has to pay $10.9bn to settle glyphosate-based herbicide cancer claims in the US.”

Green councillor Rosie Baker says:

“I am passionate about protecting our beautiful flora and fauna, including the vital pollinators we depend upon for survival. 

Along with like-minded councillors from other Parties, we find the decision to continue the use of glyphosate is in direct contradiction to the Council’s pollinator strategy secured by campaigning from York Green Party. 

We hope that cross-party support on this issue will secure better weed management strategies, including, for example, the use of strimmers instead of chemical weed-killers around lampposts, benches, and signs.”

For your information the full text of the call-in as submitted to the Council:

Councillors Vassie, Warters, D Taylor. R. Baker, and K Taylor call in the Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change’s decision, at item 4 of her recent Decision Session, on weed management for the following reasons:

  1. That it fails to demonstrate any commitment to the aims of the council’s adopted Pollinator Strategy, namely aim 2.3 ‘reduce the impact of pesticides on pollinators and other wildlife’;
  2. The decision of the Executive Member delivers no action whatsoever on reducing pesticide use until at least 2024, and possibly 2026, seven years after Full Council voted unanimously to call for action to protect pollinators and to reduce the use of pesticides;
  3. The Decision Session report included no performance appraisal of the existing contract, or detailed options of alternatives to allow a meaningful comparison and confidence the local taxpayer is securing good value for money;
  4. We believe that any weed control contract continuing the use of glyphosate must include annual glyphosate reduction targets (year on year for the period of the contract), including through reducing the number of sprays from the current 3 times a year to twice a year in the first year of any new contract;
  5. City of York Council should be joining more than 80 other UK councils – including Hackney, Glastonbury, Doncaster, Brighton, Bristol, Guilford, Chichester, Folkstone, Chelmsford and Trafford – who’ve already committed to end pesticide use;
  6. To recommend that if the council cannot find a contractor to agree to targets and changes of weed management that are consistent with the council’s Pollinator Strategy, such as the use of strimming, weed brushing, and thermal lances or other methods that reduce or eliminate pesticide use, that an option is considered to bring the weed control programme back in-house.

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