Parks chief laments poor pesticide policy

Government criticised for lack of joined-up thinking on pesticide regulations and budget cuts.

Jones: lacking in weed controls - image: Telford & Wrekin Council
Jones: lacking in weed controls - image: Telford & Wrekin Council

A parks head has criticised the Government for a lack of joined-up thinking on pesticides and budget cuts.

Telford & Wrekin Council parks and open spaces team leader Chris Jones said pre-regulation in the 1980s the local authority "had wonderful clean streets - we put Simazine down and wouldn't see a weed for 12 months".

Now there is only glyphosate left to help keep weeds under control and many replacements for banned chemicals are costly and give limited control, he added.

Speaking at the Amenity Forum Conference at the King Power Stadium in Leicester (17 October), Jones said: "There is no joined-up thinking in the Government. Defra has its own agenda and the Treasury has its own agenda. How can we make things better and abide by the regulations when we have to save money?"

Telford & Wrekin Council had to find £60m in savings in April and an extra £10m in August. Jones's budget was cut at the start of the financial year and asked to save a further £400,000 in October and another £300,000 from April next year.

He added: "Regulation is good but you need the budgets to achieve what the Government wants us to do. My feeling is that it's going the other way."

Jones's team has reduced grass-cutting regimes to save money (see box). But he said there is a positive side to the changes because longer grasses and meadow mixes improve biodiversity and allow more connectivity between wildlife-friendly areas, something he has been promoting for some years.

TELFORD & WREKIN OFFSETTING COST SAVINGS

- Money saving

The council has stopped grass cutting around housing estates, reduced grass cutting in general from 16 to 12 times a year and by the roadside from four to two, and is planning to reduce that to just once a year from April.

- Money raising

Parks and open spaces team leader Chris Jones said: "We're looking at every sort of income stream possible. We've always had a lot of events but we're really ramping it up to offset the savings we have to make."


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