Campaigners are calling for Reading Borough Council (RBC) to stop using a ‘harmful and unnecessary’ weed killer.

Glyphosate has been linked to the decline in populations of the honey bee and other insects.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned the week killer is ‘probably a human carcinogen’.

More than 800 people have signed a petition from Extinction Rebellion Reading campaigner Eloise Jones.

Ms Jones said the weed killer is ‘unnecessary, toxic and harmful’ and has been linked to a decline in bees and other insect populations.

She said: “We understand that on average four times yearly, RBC sprays glyphosate weed killer around our park benches and at the base of many of our parkland trees and trees around our town.

“We, the undersigned would like RBC to cease the use of Glyphosate products and allow weeds to grow around the base of trees as have they have for millennia as part of natural biodiversity.”

Ms Jones said the council could use the money saved to trim weeds at park benches.

A number of cities, counties, states and countries throughout the world have taken steps to either restrict or ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in weed killer.

Councillor Brenda McGonigle (Green, Park ward) has previously called for RBC to stop using the controversial weed killer.

A spokesman for RBC said: “The council is fully committed to environmental issues and limits the use of pesticides where it is possible.

“Over the last year we have cut glyphosate used by more than half in Reading by limiting its use to where mowing is difficult and to control noxious species.

“We are actively considering alternatives but these must be weighed against any cost implications and whether there are more environmentally-friendly methods of controlling weeds which fall within the same cost range.

“There is currently no change in national guidance on the use glyphosate.

“At the same time, new guidelines for the protection and enhancement of our natural environment are being actively addressed through Reading’s Climate Change Partnership, of which the council is an active member.

“The council will continue to monitor national advice as well as any advances in technology which provide less labour intensive and more cost-effective solutions.”

The petition

can be viewed here