Time to clean up your act

LITTER costs a tidy sum to clear up each year, but as DAVID GREEN reports, it's time to spring in to action and back a bid to clean up our acts.WHY do people drop litter? Is it laziness, an attempt to escape responsibility or sheer bloody-mindedness?Litter is one of the modern world's biggest environmental problems with billions of pounds spent each year picking it up and trying to persuade people not to drop it in the first place.

LITTER costs a tidy sum to clear up each year, but as DAVID GREEN reports, it's time to spring in to action and back a bid to clean up our acts.

WHY do people drop litter?

Is it laziness, an attempt to escape responsibility or sheer bloody-mindedness?

Litter is one of the modern world's biggest environmental problems with billions of pounds spent each year picking it up and trying to persuade people not to drop it in the first place.


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In the UK alone, where litter and waste dumping is the most common environmental crime, local authorities spend about £340 million a year on clearing up the mess.

Now a campaign is being launched to clean up Suffolk this springtime and to persuade people to change their behaviour, particularly over the dumping of food and cigarette waste.

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Spring Clean Suffolk, the idea of the Suffolk Agricultural Association which is seeking teams of volunteers to add to the routine work carried out by councils, between March 20 and 26.

Main roads, along which motorists throw cigarette packets and fast-food cartons, are among the worst litter hot spots but they will not be targeted - because of road safety concerns for the “pickers”. Lanes have to be closed when litter picking is carried out along trunk road routes by Highways Agency contractors.

All of Suffolk's local authorities hand out fixed penalty fines - currently £50 but likely to be increased to £75 in April - to people seen dropping litter.

Glynis Wood, spokeswoman for Ipswich Borough Council's litter enforcement team, said: “People and litter sadly go together. Those dropping litter are a substantial minority - right across the age groups.

“They are people who can't be bothered to put the litter in a bin or take it home and people who believe that they pay council taxes for people to pick rubbish up. It is a poor attitude.

“We are trying to change people's behaviour and persuade them to do the right thing with their litter.”

Barbara Tottle is Ipswich's first litter enforcement officer, she started work in August and since the start of this month, a dropped bag or cigarette butt could leave you £50 poorer. She said “I think most people want to see their town looking clean and tidy and are supportive of what I'm trying to do."

The £50 fixed penalty fines are a last resort - Mrs Tottle's first request is to ask the litter lout to pick up the rubbish they've dropped

There was also a link-up with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority which would trace the owners of cars where the driver was seen dropping litter out of the window.

In a recent survey, Ipswich emerged fairly well with 93pc of areas rated either A or B, the top grades for cleanliness, and only seven per cent graded C or D as having significant problems.

Around some schools in the borough, notably Chantry High, there had been a big improvement but problems were still occurring elsewhere.

Malcolm Duesbury waste services manager in charge of the company that clears litter in the Suffolk Coastal area, said efforts were constantly being made to engage other organisations in a concerted campaign to combat litter.

“Hit squads” were used to clear litter accumulations reported by the public but staff tried t keep ahead of problems by routine work.

Mr Duesbury said research by Encams, formerly the Tidy Britain Group, suggested that a majority of people could be educated and persuaded to stop dropping litter but a significant minority, about 20per cent, was likely to ignore all appeals.

“Everywhere in this district there are problems - even in the villages,” he added.

The idea of Spring Clean Suffolk came from the Suffolk Agricultural Association's Carol Gurney, who was president of the 2005 Suffolk Show.

“I felt that something needed to be done so I enlisted the support of the High Sheriff, Philip Hope-Cobbold, and everything has snowballed from there,” he said. As much as possible of the waste collected will be put into the recycling system.

People are being urged to report areas of concern and use hotline numbers to arrange disposal of litter they have collected.

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IS there a litter blackspot in your area? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

LITTER HOTLINE NUMBERS:

Babergh District Council 01473 433000

Ipswich Borough Council 01473 433000

Mid Suffolk District Council 0845 6066067

Suffolk Coastal District Council 01394 444000

PEOPLE dismayed by the amount of litter on Suffolk's beaches and estuaries are being urged to take action.

Increasing awareness of litter along the county's 50-mile coastline led to Suffolk joining the Marine Conservation Society's Adopt a Beach project for the first time last year.

Now the project is being extended to take in the county's estuaries. It encourages the involvement of local communities in caring for the coastal environment.

Nine groups are currently involved in surveying and picking up litter along stretches of Suffolk's coastline. Most take part in the MSC's annual BeachWatch survey in September.

Both Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils carry out litter clearance at tourist hotspots during the summer season. But litter tends to accumulate in many areas out of season - stretching local authority resources.

Participation in the Adopt-a-Beach project is being co-ordinated by the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit, a local authority unit set up to protect and enhance the coastal strip.

Lynn Allen, the unit's countryside officer, said litter on beaches came from a variety of sources but a significant proportion was left by fishermen and tourists.

“Litter is a concern for many reasons, mainly because it is harmful to wildlife and unsightly and also it has an impact on the tourism trade.

“It is a year-round problem that needs a year-round solution and this scheme will really make a difference,” she said.

Seabirds and other shoreline creatures died after becoming entangled in beach litter.

“Plastic waste is an increasing problem on our beaches but I don't know whether the litter problem has got worse. There is certainly greater awareness of litter these days,” Mrs Allen added.

Gill Bell, spokeswoman for the Marine Conservation Society, said taking part in the Adopt-a-Beach project was a good way of getting out of doors in aid of a worthy cause.

Anyone interested in becoming part of an anti-litter group along the Suffolk coast or estuaries should contact Mrs Allen on 01394 384948.

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