BOURNEMOUTH council has defended its use of a toxic weed killer banned in other countries.

Green councillor Simon Bull called on the borough to stop using glyphosate, which last year was classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the World Health Organisation, during Tuesday night’s full council meeting.

The Winton East ward councillor said he had observed the authority’s workers spraying the chemical "liberally" and with “no obvious protective clothing”.

“There was no signage to advise the pubic of the risks,” said Cllr Bull.

“Glyphosate is banned in the Netherlands and various other places across the world.

“It is a carcinogenic and causes bees to starve – bees being essential pollinators, so something we should try to avoid.”

Cllr Michael Filer, cabinet member for cleansing and waste, said it is the second year the authority’s highways department has tasked the sprayers.

“We are only targeting emerging or established weeds in back edges, front edges, broken tarmac and tree pits in the public footpaths,” said Cllr Filer.

“This operation is carried out by certificated sprayers and all codes of conduct are adhered to as per the training.”

Cllr Filer said that 39kg of glyphosate salt has been used in the town to date.

“Due to the applicator and the containment of the chemical, while spraying, operators only need to wear coveralls and boots.

“Signage is not a requirement as it is classed as a moving operation without use of a power sprayer.”

Cllr Filer said he had been given assurances by council officers that the chemical was safe to use.

“If any changes are needed for safety reasons, of course they will be made,” he added.

Glyphosate was first used as a commercial weed killer when it was brought to market by agrochemical firm Monsanto in 1974 under the brand name Roundup.

It is still used in more than 100 countries across the world, but in 2014 the Netherlands banned the sale of the chemical for home and individual use. And last year the French government pledged that glyphosate would be banned for domestic use in the country by 2022.

This came after the World Health Organisation classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic in humans" in March last year.