New answers needed to control Dearne Valley’s littering problem
Tougher measures against littering and fly tipping have been demanded to tackle problems in the Dearne Valley by a councillor dispirited after seeing “hundreds of thousands of pounds” spend on dealing with the probllem in recent decades.
There is concern that current local authority tactics for controlling littering are not changing public behaviour – though it is acknowledged the problem is a national issue – and now councillors representing the Dearne area on Barnsley Council are to work with officials to look for a new approach.
They have questioned whether more punitive measures, not necessarily financial, could be imposed against those caught littering or dumping rubbish as part of a package to improve performance on changing attitudes.
Work is already done in schools, with the aim of forming the attitude among children that they need to take responsibility for their neighbourhood with the hope that will also be fed back to parents.
But Coun May Noble told a meeting of the Dearne Area Council: “We have thrown hundreds of thousands of pounds at it over the years and we are not seeing any improvement.
“Do we need to do it differently? People are waiting for us to do it for them,” she said.
The Area Council uses a company called Twiggs to work in the area on environmental schemes and a major component of their work is to encourage volunteers to take part – with the ultimate aim of persuading communities to take over totally.
But Coun Noble said that was not working and stated: “We need to find some way of working with people to say ‘right, its over to you’.
“You give people a letter with a community protection notice and it doesn’t make any difference,” she said.
Individuals were not dealt with as harshly as companies found fly tipping, she said, and added: “We have to have something much harsher than we have got, which makes an impact – whether you have people cleaning up their street for X amount of weeks.
“I think we need to sit down and discuss how we deal with it in a different way.”
She was told by Paul Castle, the council’s service director for environment: “This authority does so much more than many and is bold in what it does. Ultimately it comes down to the courts’ attitude and propensity to pay.
“Some of the fines that go through are paltry, then when we put it out, people come back and say ‘is that it?’ so we are working with the Magistrates as well.
“I will happily arrange something so we can have a discussion,” he said.
Coun Noble added the question to answer was: “How do you make people proud of where they live?”
The meeting was told that in some areas, volumes of rubbish collected by Twiggs had reduced, but Coun Charlotte Johnson told the meeting she was “getting loads of complaints about litter and weeds”.
“When people come to complain, I always say ‘we can, but can they volunteer’. I think it needs to be a bit more visible,” she said.