New York Solution
Perhaps it’s an off-piste idea but I recently got to wondering if Sheffield’s summer fly-tipping epidemic might just have something in common with New York City’s Nineties crimewave.
Sounds ridiculous comparing record murder and rape statistics to a few dumped beds and boxes, perhaps. But hear me out.
See, back then, New York officials became convinced the rise in major crime was down to the city’s number of broken windows. Their theory went that neighbourhoods allowed to fall into decay were more likely to see an increase in bad behaviour. A crook’s dream was an uncared-for community.
Under Mayor Rudy Giuliani a zero tolerance strategy was launched which not only cracked down on anti-social activity but, tellingly, aimed to fix every broken window within 36 hours of it being smashed. And it worked. Crime fell.
Here in Sheffield, we have a fly tipping problem. But, we also have a problem with a council which allows street-side weeds to grow to almost head height. Complaints about pavements being overrun by overgrowth in Gleadless went two months unheeded. Similar problems with untamed nettles are occurring in city centre roads.
So, here’s the question: is it just possible there might be a correlation between this official lack of care and the increase in dumping? Is it possible if our streets look unloved, residents lose respect?
In short, while it’s all well and good for Coun Jack Scott – supposedly in charge of such things – to pose and promise crackdowns on litter louts, shouldn’t he also be demanding his officials get out there and keep the city looking like it’s liked?