Low Down And Dirty

Local authorities come bottom of the heap with dealing with street litter

Bottom Of The Pile - Worst Performing Councils
  1. Haringey
  2. Havering
  3. Barking and Dagenham
  4. Hounslow
  5. Hillingdon
  6. Greenwich
  7. Ealing
  8. Harrow
  9. Waltham Forrest
  10. Kingston Upon Thames

Source: Audit Commission, BVPI Data

Full report can be found here

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Both Ealing and Hounslow boroughs are considered to be amongst the dirtiest in Britain according to a report published by Campaign to Protect Rural England. Hounslow is ranked fourth filthiest whilst Ealing fare slightly better ranking seventh out of the worst offenders.

Local authority BVPI scores show how littering varies in different parts of the country. The rankings show clearly that the majority of well-performing councils are located in rural areas, while the worst are mainly urban. Nevertheless, success is not confined to the countryside; the densely populated London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea still makes the top 10.

Since the 1960s the amount of litter dropped annually has shot up by 500 per cent, and local authorities are now left to foot a bill of an estimated £500 million a year to clean it up. Alongside these costs, companies in heavily littered areas are losing business, and rubbish adds to an air of neglect in local communities, contributing towards increasing crime rates and anti-social behaviour.

Bill Bryson, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said, “This report identifies the lack of any systematic logic in enforcement policy. Fines are an essential enforcement tool, and one which needs to be applied far more consistently than is currently the case.

“As this report also says, we need community buy-in to the fight against litter; we must build civic pride in clean and tidy environments, with communities competing to be spotless. Only then can we stop the exasperating and routine vandalism of a country so rich in natural, cultural and built heritage.”

He goes onto to say that, “This Policy Exchange and CPRE report is full of recommendations which deserve serious consideration by the powers-that-be. It challenges us to tackle the all too widely held view that litter is someone else’s problem, and to raise our collective game in the campaign against litter. It reminds us that litter was once perceived as a major environmental problem, and that a string of celebrities were prepared to endorse high-profile campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s; we need a similar approach now. And it shows us what other countries are doing to address their own litter problems – if they can do it, and if, as opinion surveys tell us again and again, people want action on litter, there is no excuse for inertia in Britain.

“The report recognises that fining people for dropping litter should always be a measure of last resort, and that it can be more or less effective from area to area. However, fines are an essential enforcement tool, and one which, as the report says, needs to be applied far more consistently than is currently the case. The report identifies the lack of any systematic logic in enforcement policy, which appears to be influenced as much as anything by the preferences of councillors and local authority officers. This is the wrong way round – the priorities of councillors and officers should be dictated by what local people want to see.”

Litter can have a fundamental impact on the quality of life experienced in communities and there are also wider economic, social and environmental costs that cannot be ignored. Councils spend an estimated £500 million a year cleaning up litter, money that could be spent on other local services.

March 17, 2009