News release from 08/07/2020

Keep caring and don’t litter

Keep caring and don’t litter

With lockdown rules easing, there’s a reminder from South Cambridgeshire District Council that it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep caring and not litter.

Councils and public sector bodies across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are urging residents to keep caring and sticking to the rules as Coronavirus hasn’t gone away. As part of this campaign, South Cambridgeshire District Council is reminding residents that being caring includes being considerate. That means by not littering and tidying rubbish up when you see it on the floor – as long as you’re able to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser straight afterwards.

The keep caring campaign makes the point that rubbish destroys our countryside and puts those who clear it up at risk - especially along busy roads.

During the first quarter of this year, more than 1,300 bags of litter were collected from almost 140 miles of roads in South Cambridgeshire. This includes stretches of the A14, A1198, A11 (pictured in two photos below), A428, A1307, A10 and A505. Because these are all busy roads, the litter had to be collected by specialist contractors at a cost to taxpayers of nearly £70,000.

A green carriageway in the middle of two busy roads. There is a bag of rubbish and gloves visible on the grass.Litter that has been collected and left by the side of a busy road.

Additionally, the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service has 10 staff litter picking, sweeping roads and investigating or removing fly-tips every day.

Figures from Keep Britain Tidy show more than two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK daily. The cost to taxpayers for street cleaning across the UK is over £1 billion a year. Litter can be anything from a crisp packet or cigarette butt to a bag of rubbish. All litter is unsightly and makes our local areas look untidy and uncared for. Common litter items include fast-food packaging, sweet wrappers, drinks cans, bottles and cigarette butts.

Litter does not clean itself away. It can take years to degrade, causing harm to wildlife and habitats. Food people drop – whether it is half-eaten burgers, chips or apple cores - can attract pigeons and vermin such as rats.

If you, your family, parish council, school or local community group would like to organise a social distancing-compliant voluntary litter picking event in your area, the Council can support you through lending litter grabbers and gloves for the event. We also provide bags for the collection of litter and can collect these after the event. 

Cllr Bill Handley (pictured - above), Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "Littering is not a problem specific to South Cambridgeshire; it’s a national problem. The solution is simple and is in everyone’s hands – take your rubbish home or put it into a bin. Or better still, recycle it if you can. Communities really care about this. You only have to look at the high number of comments on social media to see how strongly people feel about it. Every time someone drops litter, even if it’s as small as a crisp packet, someone has to pick it up or it will stay there for a very long time. We do have litter-picking teams and the service costs a great deal of council-tax payers’ money, but resources are limited. Thankfully, there are individuals and groups across the district who litter-pick regularly and contribute greatly to the effort and our thanks go to them. The point is, if people didn’t throw away their rubbish so irresponsibly our tax money could be spent on other important things. Please keep caring and don’t litter."

Littering can also increase the chance of a fire starting. Group Commander Paul Clarke, Head of Fire Prevention at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: "We’d urge people to be mindful when out and about enjoying our parks and open spaces. Not only is littering unsightly, and bad for the environment, it can also pose a fire risk.

"Something as simple as carelessly discarding a cigarette or leaving glass bottles on the ground on a sunny day can start a fire. It’s these types of fires that start small but spread quickly, meaning people are put at unnecessary risk and leading to emergency service being called.

"We’d also urge residents to be careful when using disposable BBQs. It’s really important that disposable BBQs are kept off grass and are completely cool before being disposed of.

"Any fire presents significant risks for anyone around the area if it gets out of hand, as well as for the fire crews sent to tackle them, so it’s really important that people take extra care this summer, be considerate of others and deal with their rubbish responsibly."

It is an offence to drop litter on land or into water that’s accessible to the public even if it’s private land. This applies to private land that the public can access, for example a right of way. Offenders can be prosecuted in a magistrates’ court and fined up to £2,500. Litter droppers can get a fixed penalty notice of £150.