Since the end of 2021, Clean Up Britain has been engaged in a project to get further into the details of what is happening up and down the country with regards to councils and litter action.
A group of Local Champions have been sending requests to their councils to help us answer some key questions about litter prevention in England.
At the time of writing, there are 330+ local authorities in England alone – this makes it a pretty significant task to get round all of them and collate the responses. However, we have already contacted a very significant sample size of 70+.
This means we are getting a pretty good idea of why things out there look like they do.
Here are some initial headlines:
– Councils which use private enforcement agencies issue significantly more fines for littering than those which don’t
– Almost all the councils which use private enforcement agencies have contracts in place which are at least cost-neutral
– Some councils don’t know how many bins they manage
– Some councils have responsibility for managing bins and some apparently don’t
– Virtually no councils separate out the cost of litter picking from their overall street cleaning contracts, meaning the true cost the of the problem is difficult to identify and therefore reduce
– The amount that you are fined for littering and the likelihood that you will be fined for littering varies hugely from one area to another
The picture is a mix of definitely good and definitely bad practice. It is also highly fragmented, which raises the question of why some of these important maintenance issues are not more standardised across the country – are things really so different in Tonbridge & Malling, Waverley and Amber Valley..? And why, when the answers and outcomes are often so clear-cut, is there so little consensus and sharing of best practice?
More to follow as further findings are analysed.
Odd that you mention Tonbridge and Malling where littering and street cleansing is a big problem and where I have just got the results from my FOI back. Really disappointing results where we now know that only two fines were issued in the last year and the frequency of street cleaning has reduced significantly.
We live in a very rural area, the village covering 27 sq. miles. The problems are ordered as follows: dog walkers and dog shit left in plastic bags on lanes and footpaths/bridleways; cyclists and motorists throwing away empty drinks cans/plastic bottles into verges; sweet wrappers and paper; farmers’ black plastic sheeting; plastic supermarket packaging of sandwiches/pies. We pick this up weekly, separate it out, and recycle as much as possible. Our problem is mostly visitors from cities/towns not taking their litter back home, rather than dumping it for the ‘dog shit fairy’ to clear up after them.
Hi in our area the local authority Barnsley ( BMBC) only street clean main thoroughfare on a scheduled basis – residential streets don’t get any attention only from volunteers.
Fly tipping database deployed and available to the public by the council is not fit for purpose and resolutions are poor with many cases passing the councils own 5 working day resolution ( post report)
Something else Barnsley council are world class at is applying yellow and black sticky tape onto reported fly tipping stating “ under investigation BMBC aware” then leaving for weeks on end before cleared up.
Another big concern in our area is the high volume of street furniture covered In graffiti / tags this street furniture is owned by the large companies such as BT/ Virgin council state these are not the responsibility of the council even though they are located on our streets somebody should be forced to clean these up and anti graffiti paint applied to stop recurring problems.
Brighton and Hove – I just despair. There is the big public litter issues after events on the beach for eg that get big publicity and big clear ups. Then there are the residential areas where one dispiirited street sweeper tries to keep up with the dropped litter, dog poo in and out of bags and, big problem here, rubbish from overstuffed bins(usually outside HMOs) blown onto the street or pulled out by foxes and gulls. Then in the country areas there are the people who chuck rubbish over their back fence for years as well as fly tippers, over flowing litter bins and dropped rubbish.
Mmm you have to be realistic when it comes to litter. Fines are useful for fly tipping but not much else as it’s almost impossible to enforce every piece of litter that is dropped.
A more useful way of spending any budgets would be to invest in a vigorous street cleaning regime, putting bins in convenient places and primary/secondary school education. This will have short and long term impacts on the amount of litter around as ultimately it is an attitude problem of those that drop it in the first place and you also have to accept that there will always be people who drop litter…..unfortunately.
Here in Lowestoft (East Suffolk Council), over the past three years I’ve bean in constant communication with the Environmental leader who is responsible for the contract with the appointed refuse company.
Geez, it’s been painful, hard work, frustrating and ultimately dealing with a fragmented council organisation where the left is not sure what the right is doing, and a culture of, ‘not my problem mate’ 🙁
What’s so frustrating, are the points I keep highlighting are not rocket science i.e. get out from behind your desks and monitor the areas you are responsible to maintain (litter), but surprise, surprise it does not happen. The reality is, the council rely on a minority of the public such as me to report short fall’s, where litter is allowed to accumulate, no plan in place to rectify, they rely on the refuse contractor to monitor, but not actually in their contract to do this.
I could go on with a litany of excuses from our council who want to put the onus on educating the public, well that’s fine but what about the litter that’s piling up in the interim??
I shall keep reporting overflowing bins, areas where there are no bins, areas where no litter picking takes place nor is planned within the refuse contract etc. etc.etc.
I often visit Lowestoft and I’m appalled at the state of the roads leaning into it. The A14 is a disgrace with litter-strewn laybys, roundabouts and verges. The B roads are not much better and you have to wonder why no one at the council appears to think it’s a problem. As you say, they wait for it to be reported rather than have people regularly check the roads. They claim they want to encourage people to visit Lowestoft but do precious little to make the place look inviting for visitors. Driving into a town along a litter-covered road is not exactly going to make those people want to come back!
Typo – Roads leading into it I mean.
Where do we start….? At least the issue is becoming an issue,slowly.
1)education….1970’s style public information ads
2)fines for dropping litter and penalty points on l/c if from a car
3)technology….cameras at roundabouts and junctions
4)private enforcers like they have in london for illegal parking
5)name and shame worst areas…. and litter offenders
6)prisoners should earn reduced sentences by litter picking
7)petition mp’s for action…!!!
trying to be positive,but i think city centres have become cleaner…(?) and whilst we are on this subject,grafitti has become a major problem too…!!!!
Onwards and upwards….!!!
We have a horrendous situation in this country, I live in Lincoln, a City noted for its history, its universities and rural charm. How come every major approach road into the City is littered with all sorts of detritus that can be thrown from vehicle windows or even fly tipped on the verges? This has to stop, how can the situation have ever got this bad? At the moment I am embarrassed to call myself British.