Glyphosate Hokey Cokey – “Shaking it all about” in Manchester

Although not formally on the June 2022 agenda of the Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Hughes (Gorton and Abbey Hey) picked up on Manchester City Council’s persistent use of glyphosate, the pesticide legalised by the UK government despite Pesticide Action Network UK indicating its toxicity towards bees, other pollinators, animals and humans.

Cllr Wright (Hulme) complained that MCC’s story on Glyphosate is one of shifting inconsistencies over time, and a paper pulling the policy together from discussions at scrutiny from over the last couple of years is now a necessity. She advocated for ceasing to use Glyphosate in areas where residents don’t want it, and demanded clear answers – and quickly – especially given the number of times it has been discussed.

Climate Emergency Manchester similarly has posts highlighting MCC’s persistent use of glyphosate. Reporting on the Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee’s ‘Grounds Maintenance Update: The Use of Pesticides’, in December 2021, Caelan revealed that the previous year, ‘Manchester City Council (MCC) used a staggering 2,664 litres of glyphosate weed killer in just 12 months, that’s more than 50 litres every week’, and that ‘the information on the vast quantity of Glyphosate weed killer used by the Council is not contained in their report – that fact only emerged because a concerned citizen submitted a freedom of information request.’ The FOI request also revealed that no recorded Council decisions on weed spray use had been made in the last 12 months.

Retracing MCC’s glyphosate narrative as far back as the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, 31st January 2018,[1]  shows scrutiny of alternate methods of weed control for introduction into MCC’s grounds management system, and the comparative cost of reducing the dependency of Glyphosate within Manchester Parks. Referring to this item nearly three years later in December 2021, Cllrs Shilton Godwin (Chorlton Park) and Holt (Chorlton) pointed out that MCC did commit to phasing out its use. They questioned why, once again, councillors needed to put recommendations to the council for a moratorium on its use?

Sure enough, six months later, the June 2022 ‘Monitoring Previous Recommendations’ lists that the Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr. Tracey Rawlins (Baguley) has noted the recommendations for two briefing notes and that work has begun. But where are the tangible effects of the work?

The June 2022 Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee’s draft minutes state, ‘In response, the Executive Member for Environment and Transport advised the Committee that the policy in relation to the use of Glyphosate would be circulated to all Members for information’. Is circulating the policy going to bring the required clarity and urgency called for by Cllrs Wright and Hughes? Is there any active review of policy, given that the FOI request revealed no recorded Council decisions on weed spray use in the last 12 months?

Also stated is the Council’s commitment to reducing the use of glyphosate ‘and that alternative methods of weed control across different settings were being considered’, and a forthcoming report for a future meeting, presumably as a result of the outstanding briefing notes. Where is the urgency? As another year drifts by, has MCC used a further 2,664 litres of glyphosate weed killer? Determined Manchester residents with the wherewithal to imagine such an inadequate response might find their way to MCC’s grim website, to a glyphosate opt out form for their neighbourhood, on the condition that they would then take responsibility for removing the weeds themselves. LOL. The comments from the meeting will be relayed to Cllr Igbon (Hulme), Executive Member for Vibrant Neighbourhoods, but without any indication of how this might jolt MCC out of its Hokey Cokey in-out-in-out-shake-it-all-about glyphosate narrative. 

If you have comments on the post, leave them below or send a message to us at  contact@climateemergencymanchester.net . This post is part of Team Scrutiny Fabulous which keeps abreast of what is happening – and not happening – at Manchester City Council in response to the climate and ecological crisis and related concerns for the future of our planet and our city. Contact us if you want to get involved, learn skills, be fabulous, etc.  

 [1] https://democracy.manchester.gov.uk/documents/g3977/Public%20reports%20pack%2009th-Dec-2021%2010.00%20Environment%20and%20Climate%20Change%20Scrutiny%20Committee.pdf?T=10. Four years have passed and so these documents are no longer made available.

1 thought on “Glyphosate Hokey Cokey – “Shaking it all about” in Manchester”

  1. Some years ago, when campaigning contra Glyphosate as a tool to challenge Monsanto’s promotion of Roundup as part of its global campaign to take over agriculture I looked into this and launched a petition on 38 Degrees. The petition took off but I never exploited it fully as the vibes I was getting from MCC were encouraging. However I also noted council employees/ contractors using it without PPE or consideration of people perhaps not wanting it.

    GJN moved its campaign on and I confess I gave up on it- MCC’s smother practices soaked up my patience and I despair of my doubtless sincere councillors who loyally conduit concerns and responses having any effective bite.

    I’m trying to move to Sheffield (another city where Lab. has managed to offend people who like nature!), but if anyone would like to look at and revitalise the dead petition it can be found on https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/ban-dangerous-pesticides-in-manchester

    John Leech was supportive of the challenge, but an easy ask for him.

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