Thousands of residents have signed a petition begging the council to reconsider bringing back a toxic weed killer.

Brighton and Hove City Councillors voted for the return of glyphosate at a meeting at Hove Town Hall on Tuesday, January 23, almost five years after a decision was made to end its use.

It was banned by the then Labour council in 2019 due to concerns it could cause cancer and damage the environment.

The petition, launched on January 22 by Clara Usiskin, from Brighton, now has more than 5,000 signatures.

It is addressed to Bella Sankey and reads: “We write to ask that you urgently cancel your plan to reintroduce toxic, carcinogenic weed killers in Brighton and Hove.  

You will say that you need to keep pavement weeds under control and we do recognise how important it is to ensure safe pavements, especially for residents with mobility challenges. However, we believe that an effective, organic, integrated weed management strategy is possible.  This must be further explored. 

“We recognise that organic methods are not as successful at eradicating weeds as toxic weed killer.  However, the total eradication of weeds should not be our goal.  

“We can do better than this.  We urge you to cancel your plans to reintroduce toxic, carcinogenic weed killer to Brighton and Hove.”

Lead councillor for the environment Tim Rowkins said: “After five years of unchecked growth, there is an urgent need to get the weeds problem back under control.

“The ban on glyphosate in Brighton and Hove in 2019 was implemented without a workable alternative in place.

“Since last May, we have tried every conceivable method of weed removal from manual and mechanical weeding to foam stream and hot water. However, we were still only able to weed 34 per cent of our pavements.

“So we have agreed that 2024 will be a ‘reset’ year, to bring weeds back to a manageable level. We will then seek to reduce and ultimately phase out the use of glyphosate.

“We have a duty to ensure our streets, pavements and environment are safe and accessible for residents and to limit the increasing damage weeds are causing to our highway infrastructure.

“We are aware of concerns about glyphosate. But it is considered safe to use across the world, and most councils across the country still use it.

“We are proposing to go one step further in mitigating any risk by using a controlled droplet application method. This involves mixing a reduced concentration of glyphosate with an oil that sticks to the target weeds.

“This approach is very different to what used to happen in the city. This saw quad bikes driving up and down every street three times a year, blanket spraying regardless of how much weed growth there was. It was also used in parks and other green spaces.

“We will continue the current policy of not using glyphosate in the city’s parks and open spaces because they are far more significant for biodiversity.

“Treatment will only be applied to visible weeds on roads and pavements.”