In June 2020 I asked the thirty-two London Boroughs for information about:

  • their Councillors responsible for weed management
  • their weedkiller policies in particular relating to glyphosate
  • their weedkiller contractors and contracts.  

I’ve had twenty-six responses to date and I’ve summarised these below. I’ve also given each one an entirely subjective rating for the progressiveness of their approach to weed management from 1 -”doing the bare minimum” to 5 – ”making tangible efforts to stop using weedkiller”. The list below is ordered by rating with the highest at the top. [To be aware, until 7 Jun 2020 I was an employee of Croydon Council]

I haven’t yet received responses from the following Boroughs but if and when I do, I will add them in: Wandsworth, Richmond, Kingston, Ealing, Harrow, Waltham Forest.

Hammersmith and Fulham

  • Councillor: Wesley Harcourt – Environment, Parks and Open spaces, and Highways
  • Current weedkiller policy: “All glyphosate weed killers are banned for use in Hammersmith & Fulham on council maintained land, with exceptions for use on Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: None given
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Idverde (14 year contract)
  • My rating: 5 out of 5

Westminster

  • Councillor: Andrew Smith
  • Current weedkiller policy: “Weedkillers and glyphosphate are not used on our roads and pavements and in tree pits. With regards to green spaces including parks and cemeteries the practice is also to not use weedkiller unless there is a very specific weed problem that is hard to eradicate. In the last 3 years less than 10 litres of glyphosphate has been used in parks and open spaces per year.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: Not applicable
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Continental Landscapes (contract dates not given)
  • My rating: 4 out of 5

Hackney

  • Councillor: Jon Burke – Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm. Clayeon McKenzie – Housing Services
  • Current weedkiller policy: parks and open spaces – “use glyphosate where absolutely necessary… In 2018/19 this only resulted in us using 25L of glyphosate”, social housing – same policy,  “Streetscene don’t use any chemical control on any of our slip and verge sites or within the tree pit zone. We encourage residents to create tree pit gardens.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: “A trial weed spraying exclusion zone in the Kings Park Ward, Homerton was introduced in the spring of 2019 the exclusion zone covered 22 Streets and included  land types such as public footpaths, green open spaces, shopping parades, estate housing blocks and low level homes on estates that have significant hard standings. In the Spring 2020 a decision was made to expand the zone for some 70 Streets”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Weedfree (annual)
  • My rating: 4 out of 5

Sutton

  • Councillor: Lead Member for Environment and Neighbourhoods.
  • Current weedkiller policy: “In the past this has been mostly through hand weeding and hoeing, or by using herbicides.  As more has become known about the harm some herbicides can cause to the environment, the emphasis has been on finding alternative methods of weed control and it is now common to see synthetic membranes, dense planting and mulches used to suppress weed growth.  While herbicides may still be useful to deal with persistent weeds such as Japanese knotweed  and bindweed, in many cases weeds can be designed out, perhaps by grassing down infested ground and mowing, or by sealing surfaces.  In Sutton’s parks the Council will adopt an integrated weed management approach using all the techniques available to tackle weeds and only using herbicides as a last resort, to ensure only the absolute minimum of chemical is used… The Council will adopt an integrated weed management approach to weed control and reduce dependence on chemicals by evaluating requirements at each location, designing out weeds, and selecting alternative control methods where appropriate.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: https://sutton.citizenspace.com/environment/parks-and-open-spaces-strategy-consultation-on-dra/
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Idverde (2025), Veolia (2025)
  • My rating: 4 out of 5

Croydon

  • Councillor: Stuart Collins
  • Current weedkiller policy: In parks/green spaces/social housing – “Weed killers are used to maintain fence lines, No glyphosate products are used”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: “Decision to remove Glyphosate February 19 by Croydon Council. Unknown when next review will occur.”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Veolia
  • My rating: 3 out of 5 (as use of weedkiller by Veolia not clarified)

Lambeth

Haringey

  • Councillor: Cllrs Hearn and Chandwani.
  • Current weedkiller policy:  …”herbicides used in the borough are used on no more than four occasions in any one year, applied by trained, qualified professionals. Chemicals used are generally less toxic than chemicals available to the amateur gardener… glyphosate is routinely used“ .https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/documents/g9128/Public%20reports%20pack%2017th-Dec-2019%2019.00%20Environment%20and%20Community%20Safety%20Scrutiny%20Panel.pdf?T=10
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: Have reviewed alternatives (foamstream, vinegar, hot water, burning, electricity, hand-weeding) and concluded none compete on environmental and/or cost grounds. The council is involved in a pilot working with the Friends of Tower Gardens to declare Tower Gardens a herbicide free area. In this trial the council’s level of resource input is remaining the same and the Friends are increasing their work programme to cope with the hand weeding required” – will be progressed post Lockdown.
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Complete Weed Control, Veolia (both 2024)
  • My rating: 3 out of 5

Lewisham

Kensington

  • Councillor: Emma Will 
  • Current weedkiller policy: “keep use to a minimum, where other methods are not effective and for the treatment of invasive weeds such as japanese knotweed”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: none reported
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Idverde
  • My rating: 2/3 out of 5

Enfield

  • Councillor: Cabinet Member for Environment & Sustainability
  • Current weedkiller policy: ranges from almost entirely mechanical management of weeds in parks to use of glyphosate weedkiller on streets and in social housing spaces.
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: Working with contractors to find alternatives to weedkillers.
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Glendale (Mar 2021)
  • My rating: 2/3 out of 5

Hounslow

  • Councillor: Cllr Chaudhary
  • Current weedkiller policy: In parks and green spaces: “to use glyphosate only when absolutely necessary and will continue to investigate new methodologies for weed removal”. In social housing areas: “Glyphosate is used on paved surfaces only within housing estates, to treat weeds using a “spot spraying” method”. Highways:  “Hounslow Highways has ceased to use Glyphosate for the cyclical weeding programme starting in May 2020 except for a dozen specific locations suffering from invasive weed growth such as Japanese Knotweed.” https://hounslowhighways.org/street-cleansing/treatment-of-weeds/ 
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: Policy “reviewed annually”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Weed Management Ltd (not given), Lampton GS360 (2030), Hounslow Highways (2038)
  • My rating: 2/3 out of 5

Bromley

Tower Hamlets

  • Councillor: Asma Islam
  • Current weedkiller policy: Spot treatment to hard areas in parks/open spaces using Glyphosate and treatment of invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed. Use of herbicide containing Glyphosate (using a spot treatment method) to control weed growth on soft and hard areas of social housing communal gardens, flower beds and also pavements and estate roads.
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: “There is currently a project to review the use of Glyphosate in Parks and pavements which is scheduled for completion in August 2020”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates):  Weed Management Ltd (contract date not given), Bow Maintenance and landscapes (contract date not given)
  • My rating: 2/3 out of 5

Barking and Dagenham

  • Councillor: Syed Ghani
  • Current weedkiller policy: “seeks to use other means wherever possible”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: none reported
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Complete Weed Control (2 year contract)
  • My rating: 2 out of 5

Camden

  • Councillor: Cllr Harrison and Cllr Apak
  • Current weedkiller policy: “Camden’s use of glyphosate is minimal and targeted (we do not broadcast spray at any Camden site) and completed by trained operators from our grounds maintenance contractor.Camden currently uses glyphosate to: Control weeds on hard standing in parks, estates and on highways; Treat invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed. Camden does not use glyphosate for the control of weeds (except Japanese knotweed) in flower beds, lawns, or nature conservation areas.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: “Camden is keeping our use of glyphosate under review and we will reconsider our approach to herbicide in the light of any future changes to the EU Directive and/or Government guidance.”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Veolia subcontracted to VES (reviewed annually), Complete Weed Control (reviewed annually)
  • My rating: 2 out of 5

Brent

  • Councillor: Krupa Sheth
  • Current weedkiller policy: “Brent’s Public Realm Contract… has the goal of reducing herbicide use, but there are no restrictions on particular products and no set targets.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: Policies relating to the Public Realm Contract will be reviewed between April 2021 and March 2023
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Veolia (Mar 2023)
  • My rating: 2 out of 5

Havering

  • Councillor: Osman Dervish
  • Current weedkiller policy: “an integrated approach to weed control on its highways, council land, and parks and open spaces… includes use of the herbicide Glyphosate… No pesticides are used within the 14 Green Flag Parks…toleration for all parks, i.e. where weeds are not causing any problems or where excessive growth on hard surfaces is strimmed but not removed.” 
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: policy reviewed annually 
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): SH Goss (annual)
  • My rating: 2 out of 5

Merton

  • Councillor: Cabinet Member for parks and greenspaces: Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah.  Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability: Cllr Tobin Byers.
  • Current weedkiller policy: For greenspaces “our operational policy on the use of weedkillers in general is one of minimal use”. For public pavements, tree pits and road verges “the council’s contractor shall remove weeds from all relevant land to ensure that such land is weed free at all times. In the event that weed-killer is used, this shall be an appropriate weed-killer as agreed with the Authorised Officer.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: “Greenspaces policy is subject to ongoing informal review. It will next be formally reviewed in 2024 at the very latest.  From a Street Cleaning perspective the policy on weed management is subject to ongoing informal review.”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Idverde (contract date not given), Veolia (contract date not given)
  • My rating: 2 out of 5

Redbridge

  • Councillor: Jas Athwal – Growth & Leisure; John Howard – Civic Pride; Farah Hussain – Housing;
  • Current weedkiller policy: In parks, both physical and chemical methods for controlling weeds including spot weed control using a glyphosate based product, recycle fallen leaf litter as a mulch. “Glyphosate is used as one of the methods to manage weed control on Council maintained areas such as estates and green spaces. We currently have no specific weed management policy at present.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: “Vision Parks service are responsible for looking at all methods of reducing the need to apply pesticides”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): SH Goss, 1st (Nov 21)
  • My rating: 2 out of 5

Southwark

  • Councillor: Rebecca Lury, Kieron Williams, Richard Livingstone
  • Current weedkiller policy: reference to the Parks specification but this wasn’t attached.
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: “Southwark council does have a Pesticide Reduction Strategy however this has not been published… We have no set timeframe for reviewing these policies. We seek advice on the current status of pesticides from the Health and Safety Executive and the Amenity Forum.”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Charlton Environmental (contract end not given)
  • My rating: 2 out of 5.

Greenwich

  • Councillor: Anthony Okerere – Housing and Safer Communities, Adel Khaireh – Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities (Parks, Estates & Open Spaces), Sizwe James – Is the portfolio holder for weed spraying on the public highway
  • Current weedkiller policy: In line with regulations but some efforts to limit use.
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: Nothing specific
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Languards for weed spraying on the public highway, road and pavements (no end date given
  • My rating: 1/2 out of 5

Islington

  • Councillor: Rowena Champion
  • Current weedkiller policy: “Minimise use of weedkiller wherever possible and practical”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: “No plans to review the use of weedkillers”
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Complete Weed Control (  )
  • My rating: 1/2 out of 5

Bexley

  • Councillor: not given
  • Current weedkiller policy: “…follow Central Government guidance”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: none reported
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Serco (contract dates not given ), Tivoli (contract dates not given)
  • My rating: 1 out of 5

Hillingdon

  • Councillor: Jonathan Bianco
  • Current weedkiller policy: “We do not have a formal policy but we do have an approach, which is an Integrated Weed Control Programme”. Weedkiller reduction initiatives: None reported
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Complete Weed Control (one year extension)
  • My rating: 1 out of 5

Barnet

  • Councillor: Environment Committee – chair Dean Cohen
  • Current weedkiller policy: see page 271 of the agenda reportspack “Pesticide Free Barnet” 13.9.2018  “Council notes that residents’ complaints about weeds consistently outweigh those about pesticide…”  Integrated approach to weed management. Decision to monitor the guidance of the EU Commission and UK bodies in relation to glyphosate. https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=695&MId=9477&Ver=4
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: Under review in line with guidance.
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): Weedfree (one year)
  • My rating: 1 out of 5

Newham

  • Councillor: James Asser
  • Current weedkiller policy: “I do not believe we have any adopted policies.”
  • Weedkiller reduction initiatives: None
  • Contractors (and contract end dates): “PRS, Mint, iXact who are contracted to provide estate and street cleansing services.” Conttact end dates not given.
  • My rating: 1 out of 5