Portsmouth City Council rejects calls to ban pesticide use by its staff

PORTSMOUTH City Council has been accused of 'kicking a ban on pesticides into the long grass' after rejecting calls for it to be done immediately.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 1:15 pm

Progressive Portsmouth People Group councillors had called for their use to be scrapped straight away due to 'links to an array of health problems'.

But a Liberal Democrat amendment to their motion replaced the word immediately with 'in principle' support, dependent on a report looking at its 'practical implications'.

Speaking at Wednesday's full council meeting, councillor Darren Sanders said he supported a ban but there were 'practical issues' that needed to be resolved first.

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'Over the last few years, the amount of pesticides being used by the council has been going down as alternatives have been explored,' he said. 'That must - and will - continue.

'We support the principle of a ban but our role is to make it work.'

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He said it would cause issues with the maintenance of gravestones and work to deal with Japanese knotweed but that there were also financial concerns.

'When this motion was first debated in July, we did not have an energy crisis which is likely to be adding to council bills and we were not facing likely cuts to local government funding,' he added.

This was echoed by Conservative councillors who supported the Liberal Democrat amendment.

But councillor Jeanette Smith, who proposed the original motion, said she 'rejected' the decision to not bring in an immediate ban.

'This is moving the issue down the line,' she said. 'Unfortunately with this administration we have time delay after time delay.

'We've already passed motions about climate change and carbon reduction but we see no input into that and no results. It will be the same here.'

The amended motion, which passed by 27 votes to 10, requires the cabinet to bring forward a report on the 'practical implications' of a ban 'at the earliest opportunity'.

This will include an assessment of the cost of moving to alternatives to pesticides, of health and safety related to more labour-intensive methods and how gravestones and Japanese knotweed can be dealt with.