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JUNK FOOD JUNKIES JUNKING ENGLAND'S STREETS

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They're not only ruining their own health - chocoholics, pop, crisp and...
They're not only ruining their own health - chocoholics, pop, crisp and

other junk food addicts are making our streets look sickly, too.

So says a major study of England released today by Keep

Britain Tidy, which shows fat rises since 2001/2 in slung sweet papers (up

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

everyone's interest'.

Notes

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...

PositionRegionScore

1East of England72

2South East63

3West Midlands62

4South West60

4East Midlands60

4North West60

7Yorkshire58

8North East57

9London43

*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

maximum marks.

*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).

PositionLand Use

1Low density private housing

2Rural roads

3Public open spaces (parks and picnic areas)

3Waterside areas

5Public transport stations

6Low density social housing areas

7Main roads

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.

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