Green Party slams Labour inaction and double-speak over pesticide ban

12 July 2018

Lambeth Labour is tying itself in knots and failing to progress toward making Lambeth a pesticide free borough, Lambeth Green Party has said.


Before the May election, Council leader Lib Peck signed a pledge committing Lambeth’s Labour councillors to banning pesticides. [1] However questions to Cabinet members and enquiries to council officers have shown there is no timetable or strategy for implementing a ban, with Cabinet members even defending their use and contradicting council officers over where pesticides are being sprayed.


Enquiries by Green Party councillors have revealed that chemicals such as Glyphosate are being used on estates, on footways and in Lambeth’s parks.  Glyphosate has been the subject of wide debate globally. While it is agreed that the substance damages biodiversity [2], has long-lasting effects and is toxic to aquatic life, other studies have pointed to a possible impact on human health. Opinions are presently divided on whether the substance may also cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes, in its handlers. [3]


In an initial response to a Members Enquiry dated 14th June, the council stated: “The chemical is used on all our estates as part of the grounds maintenance contract…I can advise that there are no current plans to stop the use of this product.”


In an unprompted follow-up response a week later, however, Lambeth Green Party leader and co-leader of the national Green Party Jonathan Bartley was then told: “After speaking to the Parks Operations team, they have informed me that Cllr Lib Peck has asked Democratic Services to look into signing Lambeth up to the pledge.” [4]


A question was subsequently tabled ahead of next week’s full council meeting by Green Party councillor Nicole Griffiths to Labour’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Claire Holland asking when Lambeth would go pesticide free.  The Cabinet member did not give any date or even a timetable. Instead she defended pesticide use in Lambeth as “cost effective”.  She then appeared to contradict council officers saying: “Grounds maintenance services covering parks, open spaces and cemeteries do not use pesticides or herbicides as part of routine operations.”  [5]   Council officers had confirmed just a few weeks before that “The main issue is that Veolia [the contractors Lambeth Council employ] spray all footways with Glyphosate twice a year to kill weeds” and also that they were used in parks in some other circumstances.[6] 


Green Party Councillor Jonathan Bartley said: “It is clear that pesticides are being used on Lambeth’s estates, on footways and in Lambeth parks. Meanwhile the Labour leadership appear to be either in denial or tying themselves in knots about where dangerous chemicals are being used. They don’t even appear to know the extent of the problem, let alone have a clear strategy to address it. 


“The Labour-led council should get a grip, identify where pesticides are being used and implement the ban they have signed up to.  Other councils, such as Hammersmith & Fulham, have achieved this successfully years ago. Lambeth should do the same.” [7]










[4] members Enquiry Response to Jonathan Bartley on 14 June 2018, and follow up response received on 21 June 2018.


[5]  Pp 22-23


[6]  members Enquiry Response to Jonathan Bartley on 14 June 2018, and follow up response received on 21 June 2018.



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