Flytipping amnesty is the answer

Litter and fly-tipping problem around GN Cottages at Millfield. EMN-160318-180407009

Litter and fly-tipping problem around GN Cottages at Millfield. EMN-160318-180407009

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It takes one person to drop a plastic bottle. But how many more will walk past without picking it up?

It takes one person to drop a plastic bottle. But how many more will walk past without picking it up?

As a community we’ve developed a culture where it’s okay to see litter and feel no responsibility for it. “I didn’t drop it so it’s got nothing to do with me.”

And so it becomes that bottle’s destiny to be trapped at the bottom of a hedgerow where it will take up to 450 years to decompose. When and why did we all decide that litter is someone else’s responsibility?

“It’s the council’s job”. You’re not wrong, and we welcome Peterborough City Council’s announcement that £100,000 will be set aside every year for the next five years to tackle the blight of littering, graffiti and fly tipping. But it is plain to see that the amount of litter being dropped around Peterborough is overwhelming the council’s street cleaning team. Litter is everywhere and it will always be everywhere until we change our attitude to picking up litter that we didn’t drop.

Peterborough Green Party organises monthly litter picks around the city where we get together with residents to clear as much as we can of the visible and hidden litter from our streets. Volunteers are always welcome. When people are seen picking up litter the penny drops for everyone else: dropping litter is bad, picking litter up, even litter you are not personally responsible for dropping is good.

What about fly tipping? A Peterborough resident was recently ordered to pay £1300 after being caught fly tipping rubbish, but the truth is that most fly tippers are never caught. While some city councillors feel that an increase in penalties for fly tipping is the solution, we suspect that the council’s own policies on the disposal of larger items could be the root of the problem.

Since the introduction of charges for council disposal of brown bin waste, fly tipping of grass, branches and rubble in local woodland has visibly increased, while the £23.50 charge to take away large items can be undercut by rogue traders who offer to dispose of residents’ bulky rubbish for less than the council is charging, only to dump sofas, fridges and rubble on our streets.

There is a solution to fly tipping that the council should make use of more widely: fly tipping amnesties, where the council makes available to a community a skip where residents can place their unwanted items without fear of fees or fines. Residents shouldn’t be criminalised or penalised because they can’t afford the council’s collection charges. Why not make it easier for residents to do the right thing?

Peterborough Green Party is collecting signatures for a petition that asks Peterborough City Council to introduce regular fly tipping amnesties. We believe these will save the council money and clear our streets of much of the mess we see around us today. If you agree, sign our petition and let’s take practical steps to restore Peterborough to its greener glory.