Revealed: Shocking cost of keeping Ipswich clean of litter

IPSWICH: Tax-payers in Ipswich forked out nearly half a million pounds last year to clear up after litter louts – including spending up to �15,000 on scraping chewing gum from pavements.

The huge expenditure, uncovered today by The Evening Star, comes at a time when local authorities are being forced to deal with drastic cuts in their budgets.

Council bosses say the scourge of clearing up discarded cigarette butts – a problem exacerbated by the pub smoking ban – is another drain on the public purse.

Campaigners who have compiled figures for cleaning communities across Britain said it cost 10p to remove each piece of gum.

Debbie Reeve, who is responsible for keeping Ipswich clean, highlighted the growing financial burden on the authority of removing cigarette butts.

“Cigarette butts have become a real nuisance,” she said. “There are more of them because smokers now have to go outdoors and they get blown around.

“They can get stuck in paving cracks and are really awkward to pick up individually. They really are the biggest problem we face.”

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Figures from the Clean up Britain campaign show Ipswich Council spends �460,000 a year keeping the town centre clean.

Mrs Reeve said a portion of that cash would be needed whether people dropped litter or not – some is used on emptying litter bins and sweeping the streets to ensure the gullies are not blocked.

Council street cleaners have new weapons in the battle against litter but Ms Reeve conceded that if everyone used the bins it would make life much easier – and cheaper.

The new Glutton vacuum that was introduced earlier this year helps to keep the streets clean and there are regular patrols with sweepers.

Campaigners said the bill to keep the whole of Suffolk clean in 2010 was more than �4.3million, while the estimated cost of clearing litter across the country is �150m a year.

Sandy Martin, borough councillor with responsibility for the environment, said the council may be looking at how well located its bins were.

John Read from the Clean Up Britain campaign said the figures showed just how important it was for everyone to keep their streets tidy.

He said: “We know there will always have to be some money spent to keep places tidy, but these figures show just how expensive littering is for all of us.”

n What can be done to stop littering? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail