I am one of four South Cambridgeshire residents I know of who responded to MP Anthony Browne’s survey on bringing back chemical weed control by saying we did not support it. Now we’ve all received letters thanking us for our support for his campaign, which he plans to escalate to local councils.
We think this is another underhanded populist tactic similar to the Peterborough mess @CambsNewsOnline has been reporting on.
This is how I replied to the letter: Your message below has puzzled and concerned me. I filled out Mr Brown’s survey on weed control because I wanted to express my disapproval of his support for this terrible petition.
The survey gave me the options of saying whether weeds bothered me – I replied not at all – and ticking a box if I wished to support a petition. I did not tick.
Yet it seems that you have taken any survey reply whatsoever as representative of support. This is quite shocking and does not contribute to an increasing trust in Mr Browne as my representative.
So let me be clear: I do not support bringing back chemical control of so-called weeds in Cambridge. No one I know supports this, because we care about the health of children, pregnant women, and the natural world.
I would support the mechanical removal of plants which threaten infrastructure or impede footpaths if and where this is necessary. That is just common sense, and no petition is needed to achieve it, just adequate funding.
And, by the way, the irony of blaming our native self-seeding plants for damaging pavements, when infrastructure maintenance has been underfunded and understaffed across the county for decades, does not escape me.
I recognise this petition, and Mr Browne’s support of it, as a blatant and, yes, Trumpian attempt to politicise green issues to attempt to galvanise and frighten the conservative “base” – a base already badly misinformed on the environmental crisis by propaganda machines like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.
And Mr Browne was clearly not above a bit of misinformation in his communication – where, for example, is the actual evidence that anyone has been injured by plants on a sidewalk? I couldn’t find any. Just a second-hand claim by a Brighton councillor from 2021.
And does Mr Browne really not understand the differences between rewilding, biodiversity, and banning glyphosates or other poisons? He seems to think all of these are one and the same thing and cites that renowned ecologist Alan Titchmarsh to back up his nonsense.
He might try reading someone more sensible, like Professor of Biology Dave Goulson, for example ( https://penguin.co.uk/books/144/1443405/silent-earth/9781787333345.html…).
It’s all in keeping, I suppose, with the shameful decision of Rishi Sunak to slow down on net zero commitments just as some of the worst effects of carbon pollution are starting to be felt around the world, with huge loss of life and property.
Not to mention the effects on the animals and plants we share this world with. I once thought Mr Browne was better than this. It’s very sad to find it is not so.
Please remove my name from any documentation which implies that I support this petition or Mr Browne’s actions in regard to it. I have copied in my local councillors to be sure that they understand I do not support any representation made by Mr Browne on this issue.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Golder contacted us via Twitter. Her biography on Twitter describes her as a writer, producer, eco-worker. Current projects http://facebook.com/wildSWvillages/, http://hheco.co.uk. Previous: http://pivotal.space
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