Labour has vowed to get to grips with the weeds infesting the streets of Brighton and Hove over safety concerns, numerous complaints and overwhelming feedback on the doorstep during the local elections.

The problem started four years ago when Brighton and Hove City Council stopped spraying glyphosate weed killer, known commercially as Roundup. Councillors from all parties had signed up to a pledge to ban the chemical.

At a meeting of the full council at Hove Town Hall, three councillors asked about the weed problem which has blighted the area since the ban.


Council workers have manually removed weeds but, despite recruitment campaigns, there were never enough of them to clear hundreds of miles of local streets.

Green councillor Ellen McLeay asked whether Labour intended to bring back glyphosate.

Independent councillor Peter Atkinson asked if there could be one spray a year, in line with other councils, to keep the weed down – if necessary, with a glyphosate-free alternative.

Conservative councillor Ivan Lyons said that his inbox was full of complaints from residents.

Labour councillor Tim Rowkins, who chairs the council’s City Environment, South Downs and the Sea Committee, said that weeds had been a key issue when speaking to people on the doorstep during the election campaign.

Councilor Rowkins said: “It’s pretty clear that there has not been a sufficient strategy in place to stay on top of the weed problem.

“We have already begun trialling some new equipment and we are in the process of assembling a policy working group to flesh out a new weeds management policy to bring to committee later in the year.

“We are working very hard on it as it is a priority for the administration. You’re not the only one who has an inbox littered with complaints about the issue.”

The equipment had been ordered before the elections in May, councillors were told.

Councillor Rowkins said that there was “no desire” to return to glyphosate which has been linked with some cancers.

He said: “I am in the process of assembling a policy working group that includes representatives from the streets team, disability groups, the Pesticide Action Network, our biodiversity officer, residents and others, with a view to developing a long-overdue detailed strategy which we will bring to committee in the winter, ahead of the next growing season.”