other junk food addicts are making our streets look sickly, too.
So says a major study of England released today by Keep
19%), dropped snack packaging (plus 18%), and dumped drinks cans (up by a
staggering 34%). And these weighty increases are all the more disappointing
- reckons Keep Britain Tidy chief executive, Alan Woods - given that other
grimy problems are on the decline.
'For the first time in years, a national survey has shown improvements in
the state of England and it seems we're really getting to grips with things
like flyposting, graffiti and fly-tipping' said Mr Woods. 'Much of that has come
through government initiatives, improved council services and the public
demanding better standards. Now we must turn the heat up on retailers and
get them to keep a tidy shop, while reminding their customers to use a bin.'
The Local Environmental Quality Survey of England (LEQSE) scoured 11,900
sites across the nation looking at 12 different land uses - from council
estates to industrial estates. Overall, standards had shot-up by 4% since
last year - with 44% of areas deemed good or satisfactory, while just 4%
were rated as poor. Our cleanest places were parks and picnic areas, rural
roads and leafy-lane housing estates (see national stats and facts). In
contrast, needy neighbourhoods are still in want of a serious brush-up (they
were rated second dirtiest and had big problems with everything from rancid
litter bins to poor-quality pavements) and if local precincts are to stop
the exodus to supermarkets - they need urgent action, too.
Regionally, the most pristine place to live was the east of England, which
finished some nine points ahead of its nearest rival, the south east (see
regional table). Despite a Herculean effort by councils in the capital, the
filthy habits of residents left London bottom.
'We still need to be a bit cannier about where, when and how we clean up,'
said Paul Pearce, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, which represents
the nation's cleaning industry. 'London's bus and tube stations still give
out a poor first impression as do many showcase areas in our towns and
cities. The fact that streets across the nation were covered in obstructions
also meant it was impossible for our cleaners to get in and do their job
properly. With late-night litter on the increase, cleaning has become a 24
hour operation and I would like to see pubs and clubs put their hand in
their pocket and pay to help us remove this rubbish.'
Tackling trash dropped after-dark will be at the heart of Keep Britain
Tidy's work this coming year (cans and bottles dumped by boozy revellers
were found at 15% of sites). They'll also be encouraging smokers to bin
rather than fling their butts - since dog ends were seen at 80% of areas
examined. Anyone selling nosh will be encouraged to sign up to a new codeof
practice, too - meaning better bins and more tidying-up around take-aways.
Local environmental quality minister Alun Michael said: 'The findings in
this survey provide important evidence which can show where effort needs to
be targeted to combat littering and other anti-social environmental crime.
'I'm pleased it shows our streets are cleaner - this is going in the right
direction but there's a long way to go and we must not be complacent. We are
determined to continue working hard across government on a raft of measures
to improve our local environment.
'We also need to continue to work with colleagues in local government. They
are at the coal face in terms of delivering cleaner streets. That's why we
have introduced the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill. It will help
them tackle the low-level environmental crime that blights are streets. If
we can do this then we can break the link between litter, graffiti and
flyposters and the rest of the continuum of crime and disorder. That is in
Environmental Campaigns (ENCAMS) is an independent national charity working
for the improvement of local environments. ENCAMS runs the Keep Britain Tidy
Campaign and co-ordinates the People & Places programme.
Regional table, facts and stats
Having scoured sites across England's regions, our surveyors gave each a
score out of 100. Here's how they finished...
1East of England72
*Each site examined was given a Good, Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory or
Poor grade. With 33% of their areas rated as Good, the West Midlands led the
way, with the East of England second on 31%. The North West managed just 24%
leaving them next to last - while London came bottom of the heap with 20%.
*Some 28% of sites in the East Of England scored a Satisfactory Grade
- meaning the region came top, just one point ahead of the South East who
racked up 27%.
*The North West had the most Unsatisfactory sites - at 62%. Next came
London (60%) followed by Yorkshire and Humberside (58%).
*London also scored the most Poor grades, with 7% of sites given the
thumbs-down. The North West meanwhile, had none.
*All regions scored top marks for dealing with flyposting, graffiti
and fly-tipping (big items of dumped junk). Bar the West Midlands and South
East, all councils received maximum marks for clearing away leaves, too.
*All of our regions were rated Good at emptying public bins - with
the South East, East of England, Yorkshire and the North East receiving
*The East of England, East Midlands, South West and South East shared
top spot for clearing up litter (all rated Satisfactory). Less impressive
was London and Yorkshire's performance - they shared the wooden spoon.
More national stats and facts
Our surveyors looked at 12 different kinds of land. Here they rate them,
from cleanest (number one) to dirtiest (down at number 12).
1Low density private housing
3Public open spaces (parks and picnic areas)
5Public transport stations
6Low density social housing areas
7Other highways (lay-bys, back alleys etc)
9Industrial and warehouse areas
10Primary retail areas (high street shopping areas etc)
11High density housing areas
12Secondary retail (precincts)
*This is the third and biggest Local Environmental Quality Survey of
England, covering 2003/4. Next year, it could be extended further, to
include examining railway embankments and motorways.
*Although the team of surveyors is small, it has assessed a
staggering 2.8 million bits of information.
*Keep Britain Tidy puts down some of the progress made this year to
the introduction of a new performance indicator for councils - BV199. This
has asked local authorities to look at their land through the eye of a
resident and measure how well they've cleaning up. Although it is early days
- it seems the indicator has focused minds and improved performance!
*While construction companies and other businesses still dump rubbish
on our streets and clinical waste (including drugs needles) and dog fouling
is still found; over 90% of general litter comes from the hands of the man
or woman in the street.
*91% of high street pavements were stained with chewing gum. This
sticky mess was even found on rural roads.
*Last year, the fourth worst form of litter was elastic bands dropped
by postmen and women. This halved during 2003/4.