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Katharine Hamnett accuses Hackney Council of ignoring weedkiller petition

09:08 02 June 2014

Left to right: Rebecca Falcon, Katharine Hamnett and Nimrod Kamer protest outside Hacknet Town Hall

Left to right: Rebecca Falcon, Katharine Hamnett and Nimrod Kamer protest outside Hacknet Town Hall

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Fashion designer Katharine Hamnett’s has accused Hackney Council of ignoring residents’ concerns after handing in a petition with thousands of signatures calling for use of herbicide glyphosate to be banned in the borough.

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Katharine Hamnett and Nimrod Kamer protest outside Hacknet Town HallKatharine Hamnett and Nimrod Kamer protest outside Hacknet Town Hall

Ms Hamnett was joined by satiricist and journalist Nimrod Kamer, who came dressed in bandages, and Rebecca Falcon from campaign group 38 Degrees when she handed in the petition, addressed to Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe, and signed by 3,024 people at Hackney Town Hall on Tuesday last week.

But despite the amount of signatures from people concerned about the use of glyphosate – a chemical weedkiller which environmentalists want to see banned and claim is linked to organ damage, birth defects and infertility – the council has stuck in its heels, and decided not to discontinue its use.

Industry bodies insist there is no evidence the weedkiller is harmful.

Known for her political T-shirts and ethical business philosophy, Ms Hamnett, who received an OBE in 2010 for services to the fashion industry, said she was “surprised” at the council’s stance.

“The petition was signed by more than one per cent of Hackney’s population, that’s enough to trigger a referendum in some parts of Switzerland,” she said.

“It’s not a good look, three days back in office to assiduously ignore a weight of public opinion.”

She added: “The council are just parroting what they have been told by health and safety and the Department of the Environment, neither of which should be making that claim – glyphosate is classified by the EU as “dangerous for the environment”.”

Ms Hamnett now plans to ramp up her campaign to get the chemical banned by taking it nationwide with the help of 38 Degrees and the Green Party.

Ms Hamnett began the campaign this month after spotting the weedkiller being sprayed in the London Fields wildflower meadow and has since been handing out leaflets in the popular park warning people not to walk or picnic within 100 feet of it.

Hackney Council came under fire last year when the Gazette revealed it spends £40,000 a year spraying parks and weed-free streets with glyphosate, following a Freedom of Information probe by campaign group Save Lea Marshes.

Kim Wright, Hackney’s corporate director for health and community services, said in a statement that glyphosate is used for weed control by councils and gardeners across the country.

“It’s widely available to the public in garden centres and DIY stores and considered the most environmentally friendly weed killer available,” she said.

“We will continue to follow government guidance on weed control but are open to suggestions on alternative removal methods if they can be shown to be practical and cost-effective.

“However, what sometimes seem like viable alternatives, such as removal by hand, often turn out to be prohibitively expensive or ineffective.”

To view the petition go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/ban-dangerous-herbicides-in-hackney-1.

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