COUNCILLORS and residents gathered in Stourbridge to protest against the use of potentially harmful weedkillers in the Dudley borough and the use of quad bikes to spray them.

More than 25 people attended the demonstration on Saturday August 12 in Mary Stevens Park carrying home-made signs calling for an end to the use of glyphosate pesticides by Dudley Council and criticising its use of chemical-spraying quad bikes.

Stourbridge resident Ros Partridge, a member of Friends of the Earth, said “Herbicides such as glyphosate are harmful to our environment. It kills bees on which we depend for our food supply, it destroys wildlife in the soil, streams, ponds and rivers so using it is actually contributing to the Climate Emergency.

“The World Health Organisation has designated glyphosate as a probable cause of cancer and a threat to human health. Spraying must be phased out by Dudley Council rather than increased by using quad bikes to spread it.”

Campaigners are concerned the use of pesticides could have detrimental effects on the health of people, pets and wildlife.

Stourbridge Labour councillor Cat Eccles said “I have been campaigning against the use of glyphosate and other harmful pesticides in our borough for many years now. This is something which residents raise with me time and time again. I am frustrated that Dudley Council, under the control of the Conservatives, is not listening or acting like they care about the local environment.”

Stourbridge News: Councillors Andrew Tromans, Ryan Priest and Cat Eccles in Mary Stevens ParkCouncillors Andrew Tromans, Ryan Priest and Cat Eccles in Mary Stevens Park (Image: Cllr Andrew Tromans)

In June, the council announced it would be deploying three 50cc Yamaha quad bikes fitted with device to spray weedkiller in parks, streets and other high-profile places.

Fellow Labour councillor for Wollaston and Stourbridge Town, Andrew Tromans, described the use of the quad bikes, which are believed to cost around £6,000 a year, as “an outrageous use of public money”.

He said: “It was not brought to the Climate Change Select Committee for pre-decision scrutiny and moreover it sends the wrong message about how we should be looking after our local environment.

“Instead of spraying harmful chemicals all over our parks and streets, I believe Dudley should be joining 48 other local authorities across the UK who are banning or phasing out the use of pesticides in the areas they maintain.”

At Dudley Council’s Climate Change Select Committee, on July 24, Cllr Tromans made a recommendation that the quad bikes were not used in parks, open spaces or near schools.

Newly-elected Liberal Democrat councillor for Cradley and Wollescote, Ryan Priest, also joined the protest in the park and said: "It's frightening that the council is doubling down on its usage of a chemical known to cause such damage, and doing so in such a careless and uncontrollable way.”

Councillor Damian Corfield, the council's cabinet member for highways and environmental services, defended the use of glyphosate and the quad bikes and said: “The use of quadbikes has significantly improved the efficiency of the weed spraying service. They can cover ground more quickly and offer a very targeted spraying technique.

“One quadbike can do the work of 15 workers, so this frees up hundreds of hours of staff time to work in other areas of the service and deliver further improvements for residents.

“The spraying is safe and fully compliant with the law and its continued use was fully supported at a scrutiny meeting earlier this year.”