Clark Cross: Forget the carrot, it’s time to use the big stick on litter louts

Litter clean-up costs for local councils are horrendous. Picture: John Devlin
Litter clean-up costs for local councils are horrendous. Picture: John Devlin
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Here comes yet another attempt to reduce litter, with the proposal to introduce deposits on bottles and cans. Over the years litter and fly tipping problems have grown to epidemic proportions, and the clean-up costs to councils are horrendous.

Politicians have said that litter education is the way forward, but they said this 40 years ago and it failed.

Already there are bottle banks for the public to use in the streets and at refuse sites. The household renewables bins are well used, it is getting the litter idiots to use the numerous street bins that is the problem.

Why should the conscientious recycler now have to trek to a bottle or can refund location?

A charge of 10p will not stop the serial litter lout dropping his carry-out meal packaging and can of coke which costs about £6.

The Scottish Government froze council tax and litter wardens were part of a cost cutting exercise. It’s time to bring them back – not on a nine-to-five job, but to target the hot spots such as fast food outlets and pubs and in the evenings as well as street patrols.

Litter is left by the travelling community where they camp, However they are immune to prosecution, leaving councils to clear up the mess at huge cost to taxpayers.

Because some councils are inefficient in collections and the bins too small many households fly tip overflowing rubbish.

Meanwhile small business people cannot afford to pay the high charges levied by councils for disposing of materials in the official refuse centres.

Landfill fines were introduced because the EU insisted that the UK reduced landfill. Councils are paying millions in landfill fines to the EU at a time when their front line services are under unprecedented financial pressure. Now Britain is leaving the EU, so should refuse to pay landfill fines.

There are dog owners who never clean up after their dog, or do but throw their “doggy” bags away. Dogs are “exercised” – a euphemism for them fouling – early morning and late at night. That is when the wardens should be active.

The solution is for councils to get really tough on litter louts, irresponsible dog owners and fly tippers.

Never mind a paltry £60 fine ratchet it up to £300.

Target the litter hotspots such as fast food outlets and pubs and put up notices there warning that each piece of litter will attract a £300 fine.

Advise the travelling community that they are no longer immune from prosecution.

Target areas frequented by irresponsible dog owners.

Allow free access to council refuse facilities to all.

Hopefully the tough policy message will soon get through to the idiots who throw rubbish out of the car window. Those who cannot pay the £300 fine can work it off by – yes you have guessed it – by picking up litter.

Now that would be poetic justice.

Clark Cross is a retired Chartered Accountant. He lives in Linlithgow.