CONCERNS have been raised about Dudley Council's continued use of a controversial weedkiller linked to cancer - especially in and around school grounds.

Environmental campaigner Mark Binnersley has written to the local authority, Gig Mill Primary School and Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb to air concerns about the use of glyphosate based weedkiller, described as "likely carcinogenic", after noticing scorch marks on grassy areas on The Broadway and in the school grounds.

Burnt edges along The Broadway

Burnt edges along The Broadway

The burnt patches are a tell-tale sign of use of glyphosate based products such as Roundup, produced by Monsanto, which has been blamed for causing cancer in a series of US court hearings.

DIY chain B&Q has stopped selling products containing glyphosate, including the widely used Roundup, and a growing number of councils across the UK have also ditched glyphosate based weedkiller and gone pesticide free...although Dudley Council still favours its use to help keep the weeds at bay.

Mr Binnersley, a member of the Green Party and the Pesticide Free Dudley campaign, said: "Every spring, Dudley Council sprays this likely carcinogenic herbicide across neighbourhoods, public parks, and play areas, on roadside verges and around all trees.

"This is in clear contravention of European Commission guidance produced in 2017 which states that glyphosate use should be minimised in public parks, playgrounds and gardens.

"To date, Dudley Council has refused to listen to residents' concerns about this issue. And it doesn't look like that is about to change."

Mr Binnersley, a parent of two young children, said he noticed the telling signs of glyphosate use around various areas of the Gig Mill Primary School grounds and "most concerningly around the play tyres outside Giggles preschool building".

Play area at Gig Mill Primary School that looks like it has been sprayed with glyphosate

Play area at Gig Mill Primary School that looks like it has been sprayed with glyphosate

He has asked the school for a risk assessment regarding use of the weedkiller and he said: "I am concerned about the health impact on my children.

"From an educational perspective, the use of chemical weedkillers in schools sends a message to children that it is okay to abuse nature. We must show the next generation a better way of doing things."

Mr Binnersley is now asking the council to issue guidance for parents regarding the safety of children and pets who may come into contact with grassy areas that have been freshly sprayed with glyphosate weedkiller by workers wearing full protective gear.

He has called on the council to be clear on whether it is safe for children and pets to walk on grass verges following treatment with the herbicide and whether it is safe to pick wildflowers that may have been sprayed and whether residents in the borough can request that their property frontages are not treated with glyphosate.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley Council's cabinet member for environment, highway and street services, said the products it uses are 'rain fast' within six hours and residents can request that spraying is not carried out outside their property if they wish to manage weed issues by non-chemical means.

The council says glyphosate is approved for use in the UK and the EU and all products used "are fully approved as safe for use for weed control".

Heidi Marsh Geyton, acting director of public realm at Dudley Council, said: “We know maintaining our green spaces and keeping our roads and pavements clear of weeds is important to our residents.

“As part of our weed control programme we do use products that contain glyphosate, which is approved for use in the UK and EU, and are not dissimilar to products found in many DIY stores, which people may use on drives and in private gardens.

“Glyphosate can be applied in many ways, however, the majority of our applicators are controlled droplet applicators (CDA), which give a more accurate application of herbicide and lowers the risk of drift.

“The council would always advise residents to wash their hands before eating, not specifically for potential exposure to areas where glyphosate has been used, but as standard advice to anyone who has undertaken activity outside."

She stressed all products used by the authority "are fully approved as safe for use for weed control and all of our operatives undertake regular and comprehensive training, to ensure that it is applied safely and legally".

Patches of grass at Gig Mill Primary School that look like they have been sprayed with glyphosate

Patches of grass at Gig Mill Primary School that look like they have been sprayed with glyphosate

Regarding concerns around spraying at Gig Mill Primary School, she added: "Products that include glyphosate have been used sporadically as part of weed control within the grounds in line with guidance and at no risk to staff and pupils. Green care services have been undertaken in school holidays when there were no staff or pupils present."

Angela Hannaway, headteacher at Gig Mill, said educating children about the world around them is part of the curriculum and she added: "We encourage children to explore nature in and around our school environment and offer lots of outdoor learning opportunities including a new recycling project, which we are about to launch.

"This year we celebrated World Earth Day on April 22 with a range of special activities across school and in June, we are also celebrating World Oceans Day. These special events encourage our children to take an active role in protecting their local and global environments."

Do you think Dudley Council should stop using glyphosate based weedkiller? Have your say by leaving us a comment below or on our social media pages.