Agenda item

Questions from the Public under Standing Order No 19

Details of questions should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support via the email by 10.00am at least three working days prior to the meeting. For this meeting any questions must be submitted by 10.00am on Monday 28 November 2022.


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In accordance with Standing Order No.19, the following question had been submitted by a member of the public, Mr Spurr and was circulated in advance to Members of the Committee. Councillor Ghusain, Portfolio Holder for City Management and Environmental Services attended the meeting and gave the following response as set out in italics below:-


Question to the Portfolio Holder for City Management and Environmental Services - Councillor Ghusain from Mr Roger Spurr


Is glyphosate or any similar herbicide still being used on residential streets in Exeter? If so, why? Whereas usage of glyphosate for 2022 stood at 120 litres, this was an increase from the 2020 figure of 90 litres.


Currently there is a residential weed control programme, commissioned by Devon County Council as the Highways Authority. This carries out two sprays per annum. The regime continues to take place because there remains no cost-effective alternatives to glyphosate based products on the market. Alternatives are either substantially more expensive at the procurement stage, or require significant additional labour at a cost that is financially unsustainable due to ongoing budget constraints. Therefore, operationally, the decision faced by the Highways Authority is continuing with the current regime, or no weed control at all within Exeter. This would leave wide spread footpath weed growth and its associated impacts.


To date, treatment has already been reduced from three and half sprays a year down to two. In the last two years residents have also been offered the opportunity to opt out of the spray to further reduce glyphosate use, with a limited uptake. The City Council also contributes to ensuring that weed control across Public Highway remains an integrated approach. This is in line with the Pesticide Action Network advice, BASIS professional standards as the independent standards advisory charity for agriculture and the amenity sector, and through amenity sector best practice. The public and green spaces team operate deep clean teams to achieve this. Their primary duty is to remove both the growth material that builds in curb lines, and the weeds themselves. Despite recruitment constraints, this service continues to augment the reduced Highways treatment schedule, ensuring that weed control across the residential road network comply with industry and independent best practice. The service also continues to investigate alternatives and will advise colleagues in Devon County if a cost-effective alternative arrives on the market. Until such time, the public and green spaces team, and its sub-contractors, only use amenity licensed plant protection products of which glyphosate is a constituent part. glyphosate remains licenced for use within the UK until 2025.


Supplementary question and answer.


What plans does the City Council have to engage the public more directly by explaining the alternatives to the use of glyphosate for keeping the streets clean and removing the weeds themselves?




Over the last three years the public have been encouraged to look after their own streets or parts of streets with over 20 streets taking up this offer. Although the Government has not placed restrictions on the use of glyphostate at least until 2025, the City Council has examined potential different products and different ways of spraying. If this Devon County Highways Authority function is to continue consideration will be given to a more intensive campaign to encourage the public to look after their own streets.