The Great British Spring Clean
Littering has become more of an issue during the past year, not least in our parish. During successive lockdowns, many more people have ventured outside for daily exercise and regular litter collection activities have been curtailed as other public services have taken priority. Along the Dunstable Road, for example, there did not appear to be a litter collection between October 2020 and March 2021. Cans, bottles, sweet and fast-food wrappers and sundry waste was strewn along the grass verges from the junction with Tebworth Road, past the golf course to the outskirts of Toddington. To be fair to our council, CBC, when I pointed this out, they acted promptly to send out a 3-person crew to clear it away. (Or maybe it was a coincidence!)
In recent months, near-daily walks have raised my awareness of the local litter problem. At one point, earlier this year, our end of Tebworth Road was renamed Stella Alley by some. At other times, discarded McDonald’s wrappers have spoiled the appearance of Hockliffe Road between the A5 and Tebworth. In our parish, much of the litter seems to have been thrown from passing vehicles or discarded by small drinking parties in vehicles parked in the quieter roads.
More than two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK every day. The cost to the taxpayers for street cleaning is over £1 billion a year. Street cleaning covers functions other than litter collection, but a rough calculation suggests that the disposal of every item of litter costs around 20p.
Litter is anything from a crisp packet or cigarette butt to a bag of rubbish. All litter is unsightly and makes our local areas look untidy and uncared for. Litter does not clean itself away. It can take years to degrade, causing harm to wildlife and habitats. The food that is discarded – whether it is half-eaten burgers, chips or apple cores – can attract pigeons and vermin, such as rats. Research shows litter contributes to other types of crime and that people feel less safe in areas that are littered.
Dropping litter is illegal. People who drop litter can be fined or face prosecution in court. Authorised officers have the power to issue a fixed penalty charge of up to £80 for a litter offence, as an alternative to prosecution. If the offender is prosecuted and convicted in court, the fine could rise to £2,500.
While the primary responsibility for the removal and disposal of litter rests with duty bodies such as crown authorities, local councils, the governing bodies of educational institutions and so on, the tidy appearance of our community is something that affects us all. Every year the group Keep Britain Tidy organises the Great British Spring Clean as a community activity, the UK’s largest mass action environmental campaign. This year it runs from 28 May to 13 June. It is an opportunity for communities, small groups and individuals to participate in a national endeavour to rid our verges and pavements of unsightly litter.
When the litter situation in Tebworth Road became unbearable a few months ago, Anne and I collected 6 sacks of waste and debris from the nearby grass verges – including some unusual items (see picture). What was really heartening, was the number of folks who stopped for a chat to express their support. If you feel like-minded on this issue, please get in touch with me (07941 624419) and we will consider what contribution we can make to the Great British Spring Clean. Subject to the level of interest shown, and the procurement of some basic items of equipment, the aim is to settle on a day when we will spring clean our parish.