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Spending cuts 'may worsen littering'

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England’s litter problem has not improved in the past year and may get worse as public spending cuts bite, a report has suggested.

A survey by Keep Britain Tidy found sweet wrappers, drinks, fast food and smoking-related rubbish had all increased in the last 12 months.

It found eight out of 10 places are blighted with cigarette butts - an increase of 5%.

Almost all retail sites surveyed as part of the annual Local Environment Quality Survey for England (LEQSE) also had evidence of cigarette littering, while graffiti in main retail areas was at its worst level since the surveys began.

Keep Britain Tidy said year on year data showed a trend of worsening dog fouling in the winter months and chewing gum stains had also risen by 4%.

The report suggested the rise in littering could be linked to public spending cuts.

Its executive summary said: “Local environmental quality standards overall are being maintained in England, which is promising in a field that has undoubtedly seen some cuts and efficiency savings already over the past year.

“There is evidence of some standards dropping in a few instances, and it will be interesting to investigate correlations in these areas against issues highlighted by the public as less important, to see if cleansing or spending decisions are being affected noticeably by local prioritisation in coming years.”

A spokeswoman added: “We know that for a lot of people, local environment quality is very important to them and £858m was what it cost last year to clean England’s streets.

“We are spending an astronomical amount of money on it and if that was to reduce considerably, it could lead to worsening litter.”

According to the survey, the south-east and the south-west were the joint top performing regions.

It said alcohol-related litter had dropped by 3%.

Keep Britain Tidy, which produced the report for Defra, joined with partners to launch an anti-littering message.

Today’s National Litter Convention calls on the public to “Love Where You Live” and tackle the growing litter problem.

Environment minister Lord Henley said: “People care deeply about the appearance of their local environment and for many people litter is the biggest problem affecting their neighbourhood.

“The LEQSE report shows that more needs to be done to tackle this problem. Today’s convention and the new ‘Love Where You Live’ message show that everyone involved is serious about taking action.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Roger

    There's no may about it. Many councils are barely keeping on top of the problem and are often crticised for not doing more in respect of the filth - litter is too polite a word for much of what our people have to deal with - that appears on our streets on a daily basis.
    The problem is, as much as we keep being told time and time again that people feel better about a place if it looks as though their council cares for it by keeping the streets clean and the grass cut, as a service area it is neither sexy nor headline grabbing.
    Most council leaders and CXs these days are concerned about appearing in the LG press for being at the cutting edge, being innovative and finding new ways to do things, not keeping the streets clean.

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