At the July Full Council meeting, Labour Councillors:
- Backed calls to declare a cost of living emergency and called out the Liberal Democrats’ inaction on paying council workers the Real Living Wage;
- Successfully banned the use of pesticides in public places by Portsmouth City Council over the next three years;
- Helped to make the elections become more accessible to all, including providing accessible voting materials for disabled residents and those with learning disabilities;
- Secured the mapping of warm places across the city that can be used by local residents in preparation for this year’s difficult winter
- Challenged the Liberal Democrat Cabinet over failing to follow through on previous pledges to take action to tackle the local GP crisis
Councillor Cal Corkery, Leader of the Labour Group said: “Labour councillors delivered a number of important interventions at the July Full Council meeting, pushing the Lib Dem led council to take more action over the cost of living crisis, address the climate and nature emergency, make democracy inclusive and highlight inaction over the local GP crisis.
Our strong local team on the council will continue to do all we can to represent Labour values, get our policy priorities implemented and stand up for our constituents and supporters.”
In particular, Labour Councillors wanted to thank the 500+ residents and local environmental groups for backing the Labour motion to ban pesticides. The motion passed unanimously so now Portsmouth City Council is committed to phasing out the use of pesticides in all public places within three years, trialling alternatives with residents and finding the best pesticide-free solutions for our city.
Councillor Charlotte Gerada, Spokesperson for Climate Change and the Green Recovery said: “We are really pleased that this motion means we can hold the Lib Dem-led council to account for phasing out pesticides over three years. Pesticides have a detrimental impact on our environment, wildlife and public health. It’s welcome that Portsmouth council will now join the dozens of others that are taking up effective, affordable alternative methods of wildflower management and ban the pesticides from public spaces for good.”
Paula Savage, environmental campaigner said; “We need to understand the brilliance of our natural ecosystems and nurture all forms of biodiversity, this includes wild plants and flowers that grow on our streets. There are many other ways to keep them under control. The pesticides we are using are basically a poison and we need to stop spraying them, FULL STOP.”
Jane Shepherd, community campaigner said: “Councils are often nervous of banning chemical weed control because they think there will be a public backlash against ‘untidy’ streets, but if you work with communities to hand weed and help trial alternatives, then people will get on board. The benefits of banning pesticides far outweigh any downsides and ‘untidy’ streets are not the same as neglected streets.”
Cllr Judith Smyth, St Jude Labour councillor and seconder of the motion, said: “With the ongoing cost of living crisis, the squeeze on wages and the soaring energy bills, we know that many this winter will be unfortunately forced to make a choice between heating and eating. By developing a map of warm places across our city over the coming months, residents will have safe places to use when temperatures drop. Libraries and community centres already do a great job and we look forward to working with them, as well as local businesses, charities and places of worship to make this happen. ”