A St Albans dad has voiced fears over a cancer-linked herbicide being used by contractors outside council homes. 

Phil Fletcher, 72, raised the alarm over the glyphosate-based herbicide, which the borough council's contractor John O'Conner has been spraying outside his flat in Malthouse Court. 

Research has linked it to increasing some cancers by more than 40 per cent, according to studies by the University of Washington, and it is also thought to be harmful for organisms such as earthworms and bees.

Phil, who lives on his own in a one bedroom flat, said he and his neighbours are "angry" that the herbicide is still being used, and he is among a group who is campaigning to get it banned in the UK. 

The father-of-one added that another substance called Chikara - which he claimed prevents weeds and plants regrowing for around a year - is also being used.

"If anyone is living in a council estate and wishing to improve their immediate environment by planting a few flowers, then just forget it!” Phil added.

He continued: "They are resorting to chemical means such as glyphosate and Chikara to the detriment of our health and the environment."

Since it was sprayed in the communal garden around the beginning of March, Phil describes the grass as having gone yellow. 

Numerous countries have taken steps to either restrict or ban glyphosate and there has been a large number of court cases in the US. 

Joe Tavernier, head of community services for St Albans City and District Council, said: “Glyphosate is widely-used around the world and is not classed as a hazard or risk to health. 

“However we are well aware that some residents are concerned about its use and its possible impact on the environment. 

“This was discussed at a meeting of the Full Council last year and it was decided to commit to reducing its use in light of the public concern.  

“Since then we have been talking to our grounds maintenance contractor about using alternative methods of controlling weeds. 

“We have also raised the issue with Hertfordshire County Council, the highways authority, as we control weeds on their behalf on roads, pavements and verges. 

“These talks continue and we will be setting out a plan shortly on how we intend to substantially reduce the use of glyphosate.” 

John O’Conner's managing director said: "John O’Conner (Grounds Maintenance) Ltd provides grounds maintenance services on behalf of St Albans City and District Council including the use of herbicide to treat weeds.  

"All herbicides are used in accordance with UK regulations and staff are trained and certified.

"We are aware that the use of glyphosate can be highly emotive and have been in discussions with the council regarding reducing and alternative methods of controlling weeds. 

"If you would like to find out more about safe and sustainable alternatives to pesticides then please visit the Pesticide Action Network: https://www.pan-uk.org/."