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'OUR STREETS ARE CLEANER BUT THERE'S MORE WE CAN DO' - MARGARET BECKETT

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England's streets are getting cleaner but there is much more to do,...
England's streets are getting cleaner but there is much more to do,

according to a wide-ranging survey on the state of our streets

published today.

Environment secretary Margaret Beckett will highlight the third Local Environmental Quality Survey of England at a major conference in Manchester today.

The three-day Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit, attended by

academics, policy specialists, stakeholders and government ministers

including local environmental quality minister Alun Michael, aims to

highlight how communities can thrive over the longer term.

The survey, carried out by environmental campaign group ENCAMS, measures the quality of our local environment and shows that overall, the number of areas deemed good or satisfactory has increased.

But it also shows certain types of litter are growing. Compared with

2001/2 figures, the number of areas found with sweet wrappers

increased by 19 per cent, and those where snack packaging is found

grew by 18 per cent while dumped drink cans have increased by 34 per

cent.

Nearly 12,000 sites, divided into 12 land types from council estates

to industrial areas across England, were measured as part of the

report.

Overall, standards have improved by four per cent since last year -

44 per cent of areas were deemed good or satisfactory while just four

per cent were rated poor.

Parks, picnic areas, rural roads and leafy-lane housing estates were

the cleanest places while high density neighbourhoods were among the

dirtiest locations surveyed.

The survey also found the cleanest place was the east of England nine

points above the south east. But London came bottom of the table,

despite the hard work of its local authorities.

Mrs Beckett said: 'This survey provides important evidence showing

where clean-up action is needed and where resources should be

targeted.

'I'm pleased the overall picture has improved on last year but

everyone needs to recognise that more needs to be done and can be

done by central government and local authorities within existing

resources.

'That is why the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill being

considered by parliament at the moment is so important. It will give

the tools local authorities need to help stamp out this sort of

anti-social behaviour.

'One way is through the adoption of best value performance

indicators. This year's improvement has been helped by the adoption

of this more targeted approach.'

The secretary of state added: 'Nobody wants to live in dirty,

litter-blighted neighbourhoods. They promote a feeling of neglect and

make people feel uneasy. There is a link between low-level

environmental crime and more serious offences which we need to sever

by stepping-up our fight to clean up our streets.'

Notes

* The national picture revealed by the 2003/04 LEQSE results is one

of small but significant improvements in standards, especially in

those areas that have been targeted by government with revised

policies and or increased resources. These include street cleansing,

some aspects of highway maintenance and public transport

infrastructure.

* The matrix of overall quality standards reveals that since 2002/03 seven per cent of environmental elements have shown an improvement

in standard, while three per cent have declined, resulting in a net

improvement of four per cent.

* Distribution of overall quality standards:

Quality standard percentage of elements

Good 28

Satisfactory 16

Unsatisfactory 52

Poor 4

Having scoured sites across England's regions, surveyors gave each a

score out of 100.

Position Region Score

1 East of England 72

2 South East 63

3 West Midlands 62

4 South West 60

4 East Midlands 60

4 North West 60

7 Yorkshire 58

8 North East 57

9 London 43

* 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

Surveyors looked at 12 different kinds of land. Here they rate them,

from cleanest (number one) to dirtiest (down at number 12).

Position Land Use

1 Low density private housing

2 Rural roads

3 Public open spaces (parks and picnic areas)

3 Waterside areas

5 Public transport stations

6 Low density social housing areas

7 Main roads

7 Other highways (lay-bys, back alleys etc)

9 Industrial and warehouse areas

10 Primary retail areas (high street shopping areas etc)

11 High density housing areas

12 Secondary 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.

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