Saturday, 12 April 2008

Bill Bryson joins the fight against litter

The number one issue raised again and again on my local resident surveys is litter. It doesn't matter where the survey has been returned from - it is an issue that upsets everyone, which is why my team and I have spent many Saturday mornings out on the streets, in fields and along alley ways picking up so much litter we run out of black sacks.

So it is absolutely fantastic to read the Times today, and in particular Bill Bryson's article about his plans to launch a three year campaign to fight against fly-tippers and litterbugs. He proposes many solutions to the problem including further education about litter - a proposal I fully subscribe to and one that is already underway by the likes of Tonbridge & Malling's Bash the Trash programme. But one problem he hasn't mentioned which is something I discovered the other day is that often our over zealous Heath & Safety regulations prevent certain highways for being cleared. For example, Pilgrim Way going into Rochester has a significant amount of litter on it but following a recent fatality in the cleaning services, workers are now not allowed to clear embankments whilst the road is open. My reaction to this is close the highway then. If people will happily throw litter out of their cars, then they shouldn't mind suffering the inconvenience of the highway being closed for an hour whilst it is cleaned. If they don't like it, then they should put their litter in a bin.

The other point Bryson makes very well is there aren't enough bins around. He is absolutely right. Quite often the places we litter pick are completely bin-free. I think there should be a bin at every bus stop for starters and there certainly should be more bins on the recreational grounds - like the football pitches at Coney Banks, where loads of discarded water bottles or high energy drinks can be found.

I am glad there is a "celebrity" involved in this campaign - I hope that it will help encourage others to get involved and ultimately change the general attitude of far too many people that littering is acceptable.

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