Litter and graffiti costing Sheffield millions in lost investment, says business group looking to 'restore pride' in the city

Andrew Flower, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses South Yorkshire branch, at a fly-tipping spot in Douglas Road, Sheffield
Andrew Flower, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses South Yorkshire branch, at a fly-tipping spot in Douglas Road, Sheffield
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A business group says rubbish and vandalism blighting Sheffield's streets are costing the city millions in lost investment.

The Federation of Small Businesses claims a 'plague' of fly-tipping, litter and graffiti is turning Sheffield into a 'monstrous landfill site'.

Andrew on a discarded bed in Hollywell Road

Andrew on a discarded bed in Hollywell Road

The organisation has launched a campaign to clean up the city, restoring Sheffield's 'lost pride' and making it a more attractive prospect for firms looking to spend their money.

To kick off 'Operation Stamp It Out', the FSB's South Yorkshire branch chairman Andrew Flower took a tour of some of the area's worst-affected eyesores.

In just one morning, he encountered dumped fridges, baths and mounds of tyres in Douglas Road, Parkwood Springs; a field of rotting bin bags off Ecclesfield Road; and graffiti-daubed gates and shopfronts in Holme Lane, Hillsborough, and Harvest Lane, Neepsend; before taking a well-earned rest on a discarded bed beside Hollywell Road, Wincobank.

"The FSB in Sheffield seeks to make our great city the best place in the UK to do business. We endeavour to play a crucial role in encouraging the creation of jobs, driving up business productivity and attracting inward investment to our city," he said.

Andrew with bin bags dumped in Ecclesfield Road

Andrew with bin bags dumped in Ecclesfield Road

"However, our work (and that of our many partners who share our goals) is made all the more difficult by the proliferation of fly-tipping, litter and graffiti, which is fast turning Sheffield into a monstrous landfill site.

"This three-fold plague is becoming all too common across great tracts of the city. There is no factor more likely to deter would-be investors than a city which has lost all pride in itself.

"Businesses will not wish to invest here and it will be impossible to attract the people of a sufficiently high calibre to come and live in the city to drive future economic prosperity.

"For the good of our economy and the jobs of Sheffield's people, attitudes must change."

Andrew in front of a graffiti-daubed shutter in Harvest Lane

Andrew in front of a graffiti-daubed shutter in Harvest Lane

The federation has outlined a raft of measures to smarten up Sheffield during its year-long campaign to get the city sparkling again.

Those include urging businesses to take responsibility for the state of their premises and surrounding areas, encouraging them to form neighbourhood task forces undertaking regular clean-ups and getting them to report fly-tipping, litter or graffiti immediately to the council.

But the FSB's focus isn't limited to local firms; it will also put pressure on police and councillors to redouble their efforts to track down perpetrators, make arrests and bring prosecutions, and will call upon headteachers across the city to instil in students a desire to keep their streets clean.

Mr Flower said: "The state of some parts of the city is frankly appalling and there are elements within our society whose behaviour betrays attitudes which are uncaring, selfish and soulless.

A wooded area off Ecclesfield Road strewn with litter

A wooded area off Ecclesfield Road strewn with litter

"We hope to engage other individuals and organisations in a concerted effort to change attitudes and restore Sheffield to 'the jewel of the north' and create a city environment of which we can all be justifiably proud."

The FSB's campaign was launched to tie in with prime minister Theresa May's 'Shared Society' vision, which she unveiled this month.

Neville Martin, the federation's regional development manager, could not put a precise figure on how much Sheffield's image problem was costing in lost investment - but he said it almost certainly ran into millions of pounds a year.

"If you're a major business person looking to build a new factory or invest in somewhere to base your business, you're going to look for somewhere which matches the image you want to portray for your company," he said.

"If you're looking at an area dogged by litter and graffiti you're going to say this isn't the place for us.

"If we want firms to invest here we need to make the conditions right and portray a city that has pride in itself.

Tyres dumped off Douglas Road

Tyres dumped off Douglas Road

"By doing that we will create more jobs, support more livelihoods and provide a more prosperous future for the whole city."

In Sheffield, anyone caught dropping litter now faces an on-the-spot fine of £80, and fly-tippers can be ordered to pay £400 or face prosecution.

Sheffield Council says it has doled out 826 littering fines over the last year and prosecuted 200 people who failed to pay up.

During that time it has also issued 42 fines for dumping waste, secured 12 convictions for waste offences and investigated waste management regimes at more than 120 premises, fining six firms £300 each for failing to show where their rubbish was going.

Councillor Bryan Lodge, the council's cabinet member for the environment, said he welcomed the FSB's initiative and hoped it would help provide evidence to bring fly-tippers before the courts.

"We recognise that businesses operating illegally, by using illicit means of waste disposal, can undercut responsible businesses operating within the law," he said.

"We welcome any evidence where this is happening and will investigate. We also recognise that businesses can help consumers by reducing unnecessary packaging and encouraging recycling.

"Here in Sheffield we take a strong stance on fly-tipping. In September last year, we increased the Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) amount for dropping litter to £80 and also adopted new powers to enable officers to deal with those caught fly-tipping by means of a FPN.

"In suitable cases, offenders can now be given an option to pay £400 or be taken to court – although more serious cases of fly-tipping would always be subject to prosecution.

"However, we can only act where we have sufficient evidence, and would welcome the FSB, other partners and members of the public to support us in this."

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A gate in Holme Lane covered with graffiti tags

A gate in Holme Lane covered with graffiti tags