Don’t be a litter lout

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Fairlight Country Park

“Don’t be a litter lout” and dispose of rubbish safely and responsibly, is the message from district councils to park goers, with green spaces and beauty spots (including beaches) expected to see a surge in visitors as the country continues to bask in a mini heatwave – though this message did not seem to reach partygoers on Greatstone-on-Sea beach last weekend.

During the coronavirus pandemic, councils have stepped up efforts to maintain parks, green spaces and beaches which have been blighted over recent months by a sharp rise in littering, dog fouling and anti-social behaviour such as vandalism.

The District Councils’ Network (DCN), which represents 187 district councils in England – the authorities responsible for parks – is calling on the public to do their bit and act responsibly, disposing of litter correctly such as by taking it home if bins are full. It is also asking dog walkers to make sure they clean up after their pets.

This follows a recent survey by Keep Britain Tidy, which found that more than half of the country’s parks have had to pull in extra resources to deal with the issues, including litter and anti-social behaviour, since lockdown was eased. Of those, 81 per cent had to spend more on clearing up litter, 79 per cent on bin emptying and 72 per cent on maintaining public order or enforcing lockdown rules.

It comes as many district councils are having to crack down on a spike in littering and anti-social behaviour – such as parties without permission, and in breach of government social distancing guidelines.

Joint action becomes necessary 

For example, littering, public drinking, urinating, drug use, noise and vandalism in Cheltenham’s green spaces have become such a problem that Gloucestershire Constabulary, Cheltenham Borough Council, Gloucester City Council and the Cheltenham Business Improvement District have joined together to clamp down on the issues, with increased patrolling and enforcement where necessary – and possibly Kent and Sussex authorities should consider doing the same.

“District Enforcers” are also patrolling Pendle to help tackle littering following the easing of lockdown and they have started a new programme of activity and education to engage with local people on this problem, in a bid to create a litter-free culture.

Councillor Dan Humphreys, DCN lead member for enhancing quality of life, said: “It is great that more people have been able to enjoy safely spending time in our parks, green spaces and beauty spots, while much of life has been on hold these last few months.

Litter left on Strand Quay on a Saturday evening

“However sadly this appears to have come at a cost, with some councils seeing a sharp spike in littering, dog fouling and anti-social behaviour from a small minority of people who sadly ruin it for everyone.

“District councils are doing all they can to tackle the scourge of litter and make no apology for cracking down on this and if necessary and as a last resort, taking action against those who blight our communities.

“Our message is clear – don’t be a litter lout and please dispose of your rubbish safely and responsibly. It may be the case that on busy days, bins are full and so we would urge people to take their rubbish with them and dispose of it at home.”

Source: District Councils’ Network press release

Image Credits: Nick Forman , Heidi Foster .

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