vandalism and graffiti - fly-posting - abandoned vehicles -
anti-social behaviour issues faced by our communities, and
highlighted the action it wants to see tackled with increased
Local environmental quality minister Alun Michael was joined by Home
Office minister Hazel Blears, and Yvette Cooper of the ODPM to launch the second annual survey of the state of England's streets, carried out for Defra by environmental charity ENCAMS.
The survey, which quantifies changes in local environmental quality
over the past year and reflects the link between the state of our
public spaces and anti-social behaviour, revealed a mixed picture
* A 27% reduction in dog fouling
* An increase in litter of up to 12%
* An overall improvement in recreation areas, including a record
increase in the number of Green Flags awarded
* A marked increase in chewing gum deposition, occurring on
two-thirds of all sites measured, and increasing to 94% in town
* An overall improvement in coastal resorts, including an increase in
the number of Blue Flags awarded
Sites were graded on a scale of good, satisfactory, unsatisfactory,
or poor, with 40% of sites scoring good or satisfactory, 54%
unsatisfactory, and 6% poor.
Crucially, the report found that a high proportion of the
unsatisfactory sites would move into the satisfactory bracket with
simple management changes at local authority level, and without need
for additional resources.
Mr Michael welcomed the progress made, and urged local authorities
to act to bring more areas up to the satisfactory standard.
Addressing the survey's key findings, he outlined the action which
has been taken to bring about the improvements, and the action
Government now wants to see in order to take those im provements
further. He highlighted:
* Today's publicationof a government consultation on tackling
fly-tipping more effectively
* The successful ENCAMS publicity campaign to reduce dog fouling
* The creation of an action group to tackle irresponsible chewing gum
disposal, bringing together manufacturers, the Local Government
Association, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the
Department for Education and Skills, and others
* Development of a national initiative for tackling abandoned
* A Voluntary Code of Practice for the Fast Food Industry, based on
successful pilots across the country which saw litter deposition buck
the national trend and fall by 20%
* Tools to support local authorities in improving the quality of
local environments, including a website which provides a single
source of information on public spaces legislation
* The power for local authorities to close urban rights of way which
* The right for local authorities to retain fines from fixed
penalties and use the revenue for further environmental management
* The introduction of Best Value Performance Indicator BV199, a
benchmark by which local authorities can measure their performance on
maintaining public space
Mr Michael commented:
'These are things that people care about in every locality across the
country - things people talk about, that affect their sense of
well-being, and things that government, along with the local
government community, is determined to tackle more effectively. To
each of us as a constituency MP, and to councillors representing
their ward, these are important and practical issues.
'It is my strong belief that there is a continuum between the way
people treat their public spaces and the way they behave towards one
another, linking environmental issues like litter, which pull down
the feel of any public space, with anti-social behavio ur, vandalism
and violence. We cannot create sustainable communities without
ensuring that the standard of our public spaces is up to scratch.
'I am grateful to ENCAMS for the excellent work they have carried
out, and are carrying out, in the field of local environmental
quality. This robust and reliable survey gives us vital information,
enabling us to direct our strategy in a more accurate and informed
'The report shows simple management changes by local authorities
could improve the quality of local environments - at no extra cost to
the taxpayer. Some local authorities have made great progress in
tackling graffiti, fly-tipping and improving public spaces. This
proves local authorities can make a positive impact in tackling
'But there is much more to do to make our parks and streets places we
can be proud of. We are already taking action to reclaim our green
spaces for the benefit of the whole community.
'The government's£89m Liveability Fund is piloting projects
in 27 local authority areas to improve the local environment, through
better public service delivery. This should ensure parks and public
spaces will be better managed and maintained and physical
improvements will be more sustainable.
'We don't have a right to clean streets unless we take responsibility
for our actions.'
Hazel Blears, minister for crime reduction, policing and community
safety at the Home Office, spoke about new measures in The
Anti-Social Behaviour Act, which received Royal Assent in November
2003, to tackle environmental crime, including:
* Banning the sale of aerosol paints to under 16s
* Making it easier to tackle noise nuisance, including closure of
noisy premises, issuing penalty notice and confiscating equipment
* Powers for local authorities to tackle fly-tipping and enforce
litter enforcement notices
Ms Blears commented:
'Fly tipping, litter and vandalism c an make our streets seem
threatening and unpleasant places to be in. They erode communal pride
and increase fear of crime. That is why we have brought in tough new
measures in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act to deal with them.
'Tackling anti-social behaviour on our city streets, such as street
drinking and begging, is also vitally important if people are to feel
safe and secure in their neighbourhoods. We will not tolerate a
situation where an unruly minority make life hell for the decent law
'One in three people say that anti-social behaviour affects their
quality of life, that's why the government will continue to support
people on the front line through our TOGETHER campaign, which offers
practical help and support for those combating these problems.'
The full report is available here.
1.The aim of the Local Environmental Quality Survey of England is to
provide reliable, annualised information about the condition of
aspects of the local environment that are important to local people,
and which will inform communities and their public service bodies,
providing them with a basis for prioritising and improving local
2.The survey builds on work carried out by ENCAMS over the past
fifteen years on consultancy projects in the UK and overseas.
Surveyors cover around 10,000 sites across England during the year,
selected to make sure that all types of social and economic
circumstance are reflected.
3.This is the second annual report, which has highlighted for the
first time trends from one year to the next.
4.The criteria on which local environments were assessed are as
* Good: Of an exceptionally high standard that is unlikely to be
maintained in all places, at all times, but should be aimed to be
achieved after an area has been serviced or a physical element has
been r eplaced or refurbished
* Satisfactory: The site being surveyed will not be free of the
environmental issue that is being reported on, however the extent to
which is it present is unlikely to be noticed by most people, or be
regarded as having a significant adverse affect on the quality of the
* Unsatisfactory: The environmental element in question is present to
such a degree that many people will notice it, and some may regard it
as worthy of criticism.
* Poor: The environmental element in question is present to such a
degree that few people would fail to notice it, and most people would
regard it as a matter for criticism.
These broad categories are divided into four sub-categories using
Standard Quality Intervals. The aim is to show detailed variations in
overall environmental quality, and how close the standard of each
element is to rising or falling to the next category.
5.The Anti-Social Behaviour Act received Royal Assent on November 21
6.On 14 October, the government launched the Anti-Social Behaviour
Action Plan and the Together campaign. These set out what practical
help the government is giving to councils and other local agencies to
tackle anti-social behaviour.