A CONTROVERSIAl weedkiller will continue to be used by Swindon Borough Council and its contractors.

The council says that it uses glyphosate herbicides - using the same active ingredient as the domestic product Round Up used by many gardeners - to keep its roads and footpaths tidy – in a responsible fashion.

Councillors debated a motion brought by Labour member Bob Wright that called on the council to stop using the chemical in the town by April next year and for the cabinet member for highways and environment, Coun Maureen penny, to come up with alternative ways to keep weeds down.

He said: “There has been much publicity over whether glyphosate is carcinogenic, but the science is uncertain about that

“But there is strong research to link glyphosate to chromosomal damage in cells, it changes out DNA. It’s been linked as a contributory factor to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s diabetes and asthma.”

While Labour councillors supported their colleagues motion – Conservatives pointed out that in Europe, the substance had been found not too harmful.

Coun Oliver Donachie said: “The EU has just extended this product’s licence by five years.”

Referencing a case win the US where manufacturers Monsanto was found liable for millions of dollars in damages Councillor Dale Heenan said: “That’s to do with Monsanto’s negligence. The man, who had been covered head to foot in Round Up was ignored by the company when he contacted them repeatedly.

A Conservative amendment to the motion was put forward, removing the requirement to stop using the weedkiller which said: “The local authority will continue to base its decisions on science and confirmed evidenced. This Council requests the cabinet member to ensure that Swindon Borough Council continues to monitor the situation regarding the products it uses and, should the Environment Agency and DEFRA change their guidance, it will act accordingly.”

Coun Penny, the cabinet member in question, said: “The EU, DEFRA and the Environment Agency all agree that use of this chemical is okay. The borough council has reduced the amount of the chemical it uses, and it doesn’t go into the water courses. The quality of water in Swindon has improved 10-fold in the last 25 years.”

Coun Wright said: “It doesn’t get into people from the water you drink, but airborne and through other substances.

“We heard similar arguments about asbestos in the past.”

The amended motion was passed as votes split by party lines - Conservative councillors for, Labour and Liberal Democrats against.