Call for blanket ban on controversial weed killer

A controversial weed killer is still being used in parts of Southend two years after council bosses promised to phase it out.

In 2022 the Labour-led joint administration said it would phase out the use of glyphosate and pledged £120,000 to find alternatives after huge, yellow scorched patches appeared in parks and areas like Shoebury East Beach.

However, it has emerged the pesticide is still being used after scorched patches of grass were spotted on grass verges.

Southend City Council has confirmed that the pesticide is no longer used in parks, but is still used on grass verges on the city’s streets.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labelled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” and some retailers such as Waitrose have stopped selling it because of the dangers to human health.

The latest damage has angered Green Party campaigners.

Nathaniel Love, Green Party candidate for Belfairs ward said: “I’m shocked to see evidence of widespread use of the carcinogenic weedkiller Glyphosate in almost every road in Belfairs. Green campaigners have been calling on Southend Council for years to stop using this harmful substance in our roads, parks, and wild areas, but look across Southend at the moment and you see the tell tale signs of ubiquitous herbicide use. This is unacceptable.

“Glyphosate is a dangerous chemical and its detrimental biological impacts are well-researched. The use of these chemicals is harmful to residents’ health, specifically those of our children and pets who are more at risk of exposure. The ecological impact of the use of these chemicals on our environment is inexcusable.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council has stopped the use of glyphosate in our Green Flag parks and playgrounds. Instead, we use a non-glyphosate herbicide with a similar appearance upon application. We have also increased the use of mulches in parks.

“However, this alternative is not practical for all uses for many reasons including its effectiveness on hard surfaces so we currently use glyphosate, which is a regulated and approved product, on our highways and residential verges, and some of our smaller parks too, but only if deemed necessary.”

Mr Love is standing for election at the upcoming local elections in the Belfairs on May 2. He will be running against Jack Warren (Con), Lizzie Smith (Confelicity), Gareth Evans (Ind), Graham Main (Lab), Stephen Cummins (Lib Dem).

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter