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Medway Council to carry out review of weed killers being used in Towns

An investigation into the use of weed killers in Medway is to be carried out after councillors were told there is now “concrete evidence” they cause harm.

A review has been launched after pet owners have voiced their fears to the council.

Several of them claim their animals had become unwell or even had to be put down after coming into contact with chemicals in parks across the Towns.

Katie Hawkins with her pet Lola
Katie Hawkins with her pet Lola

One mother, who noticed “excessive” pesticide spraying by council contractors Medway Norse earlier in the year, has banned her young children from playing in their local park.

Katie Hawkins said her Italian greyhound Lola, which became sick in March about the time spraying is carried out, is still on antibiotics.

The 40-year-old sent a warning on social media and said she had been “overwhelmed” with the response.

She said the common symptoms appeared to be weight loss, loss of fur, liver disorder, skin burns and swelling.

Lola, an Italian greyhound suffered swollen eyes
Lola, an Italian greyhound suffered swollen eyes

She said: “I first went to the vets because she had swollen eyes and then she suddenly lost a lot of weight.

“At least 10 people have had to put their animals to sleep, so I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

“I have been in touch with Norse and been told they are retraining staff.”

Medway Norse has moved to reassure people the weed killer it uses is fine, pointing out it is approved for use by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Lola, an Italian greyhound has lost fur
Lola, an Italian greyhound has lost fur

Cllr Simon Curry (Lab), an experienced ecologist, speaking at last Thursday’s scrutiny meeting, said the use of the chemicals was “a very serious issue indeed”.

He said: “We need to know why we are using these chemicals and if we don’t need to, we should stop now.

“We have received lots of complaints. I don’t think these products are being used safely.

“There is a really strong case for no longer using herbicides in our public spaces.

"We already know that glyphosate is harmful to biodiversity and there is increasing evidence it may be harmful to animals and humans.

Cllr Simon Curry
Cllr Simon Curry

“A weed is a wild flower in the wrong place. We shouldn’t be worrying about cutting down or spraying weeds in our public spaces, but encouraging them because of the positive effect on the environment.”

Committee members shared his concerns, and asked for herbicides to be banned until a more detailed report is circulated in December - although there were no plans to use them during that time anyway.

They agreed more information was needed before it made any recommendations to cabinet, but said there was a “strong case” for considering other options.

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway


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