Keeping my town pesticide-free

So, your council has voted to go pesticide-free, congratulations! All that hard work has finally paid off! However, while many councils have good intentions when they vote on a pesticide ban or phase-out, it can sometimes take more effort to make them stick to their word.

Steps to take after your council goes pesticide-free

Planning, budgeting and hard work now needs to be done by the council in order to make a phase-out or ban truly viable. A council may vote in favour of a motion to ban/phase out pesticides, but back-track at a later date or even in some cases fail to take any action at all!

Here’s what you can do to make sure that your council follows through:

1. Congratulate them and ask them to keep you informed of their progress

Send a letter or email to your councillors congratulating them on the Motion and thanking them for their support. Make sure to include that you are looking forward to seeing their progress, and make it clear that you will be following up regularly to see what has been done to implement the resolution.

This will make them feel encouraged but it will also let them know that their constituents plan to hold them accountable. If you can, get all of your friends, family and fellow campaigners to do the same- you could even write a template letter/email and send it around for them to sign. You could also contact your local press before/after the vote to ask them to report on it. An article in the local newspaper covering the decision will make it much more likely that a council will follow through.

2. Make the motion binding by turning it into a policy

A Motion is not necessarily binding for a council and could be ignored by them if it is not seen as a priority, or if the council changes due to an election or other circumstances. The Motion needs to be turned into a policy that is clearly stated and adopted by the council. Working with the councillors that have supported you to develop a policy and get it put into place is a key next step if this has not already been agreed as part of the Motion. The PAN UK toolkit for local authorities has lots of information about developing policies that you can use to work with your elected councillors.

If your council has voted to go pesticide-free ahead of a local election, ask the new candidates standing to be councillors where they stand on the issue. During election periods, politicians are much more likely to make promises and won’t want to be seen to be planning to undo their predecessors’ good work. Try and get a public commitment from as many local candidates as possible that, if elected, they will implement the Motion to go pesticide-free. You can do this by writing to the candidates or by attending a hustings and getting a verbal commitment. Try starting with the candidates standing in your ward but don’t be afraid to expand out to all candidates. An even quicker way is to try approaching the main political parties to secure a commitment on behalf of all their candidates.

3. Get involved

There are still ways that you can get involved in the process! Many councils are creating pesticide-free forums or task forces, which often include members of the public. These task forces are designed to bring together different stakeholders to feed into the planning process. In this way, Pesticide-Free Towns campaigners are the voice of the public, and can mobilise the public in projects like community weeding for example.

Share these two links with your contacts at the council as they provide detailed information and advice on planning:

4. Keep the pressure up

If the council has voted on the Motion but done very little or even nothing months down the line, it might be time to start mobilising people again. Keeping the pressure up involves many of the tactics you used during your campaign such as writing to the council and starting petitions. However, this time there is nowhere for the council to hide – they have promised their constituents that they will go pesticide-free and they must keep to that! See our resources on how to campaign for list of tactics you can use to keep the pressure up!

5. Connecting your campaign and taking it to the next level

If you’ve managed to change pesticide policy at town council level, you may want to look further afield: use the map or get in touch with us to see if there are other neighbouring local campaigns you could link with to support their efforts. You can share your strategy and resources, use your town as a local case study, and help them devise an adapted plan for alternatives.

You may also want to tackle pesticide policy at the county level: you can create a network of local campaigns in your area and group together to take your efforts to the County Council. Your local councillors could also champion the cause! All your achievements will serve as excellent pressure and proof that going pesticide-free and adopting alternatives is not only feasible but the logical next step.