A cross-party group of York councillors is asking the authority to look again at its decision to continue using a controversial weed killer.
Paula Widdowson, the council’s executive member for environment and climate change, approved a plan to continue using the herbicide glyphosate for the next two years at a meeting on Wednesday.
Five councillors, concerned about the impact of glyphosate on bees and other pollinators, have now ‘called in’ the decision for review.
Liberal Democrat councillor and chair of the climate change scrutiny committee Christian Vassie said he was “appalled” at Coun Widdowson’s decision.
At a July 2019 full council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to request action to protect pollinators.
Coun Vassie said: “What is the point of having a strategy and what is the point of declaring we wish to take action to tackle climate change and to protect biodiversity?”
Green councillor Rosie Baker said: “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 lamp posts, benches, and signs.”
In recent years, a number of studies have concluded that glyphosate could be hazardous to bees.
In 2019, a US jury found a glyphosate-based substance was a “substantial factor” in causing a man’s cancer.
Several European countries are beginning to phase out glyphosate and several local authorities in the UK are committed to the end of its use.
Labour councillor Kallum Taylor has also supported the call-in.
He said: “We’ve received lots of contact over the last few years from residents unhappy with the council’s weed control programme.
“Any contract renewal for this service needs to evidence good past performance, as well as a commitment to reduce the use of pesticides that’s consistent with the aims of the council’s pollinator strategy, which all councillors voted for in July 2019.
“Coun Widdowson’s decision this week didn’t do either of these, so it needs another look.”
Independent councillors Dave Taylor and Mark Warters have also supported the call-in.
Coun Widdowson on Wednesday called for a trial of various alternative methods of weed killing to take place.
A committee of councillors will consider the call-in and vote on whether to ask the council’s executive to reconsider the continued use of glyphosate.