Fears Sheffield could become a 'giant bin' when Covid restrictions are lifted as ‘fly tipping is absolutely off the scale’

A litter picker said fly tipping had become “absolutely off the scale” in Sheffield and warned of the city becoming a “giant bin” when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 3:00 pm

Sheffield Litter Pickers is a citywide group with nearly 3,000 members who volunteer to pick up thousands of bags of rubbish from public spaces every year.

Linda Ball, member of the group, attended a recent meeting of Sheffield Council’s economic and environmental wellbeing scrutiny committee to give their views on the issue.

She said as well as obvious jobs they were having to do “hideous” backbreaking work that seemed to just get left and pickers were forced to buy their own equipment as the council stopped providing it.

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Sheffield Litter Pickers also called for an extension to the opening hours of tips after seeing fly tipping amplified to a level Ms Ball said was “absolutely off the scale”.

She added: “The problem of litter is not an insignificant one. It’s not to be underestimated. It is really affecting people and people want to move away if conditions are bad and we know people have moved away because they just couldn’t stand it anymore. So it needs a lot of thought and perhaps some experimentation, trying different things to see what works and definitely not just carrying on as we are.

“This summer will probably see a bit of a party atmosphere come June or July and the parks will just be a giant bin so we have got to prepare ourselves for that.”

Councillor Mark Jones, cabinet member for environment, said: “The sheer fact so many volunteers spend so many hours putting in so much dedicated time cleaning the streets is really appreciated. But ideally nobody would drop litter.

Litter dropping.

“You’re right, there has been no real investment for the best part of almost 20 years and you’re right, we are a core city and we need better centres that can be open late at night.”

Gillian Charters, head of waste management at the council, added: “We all value the work volunteers do and litter is not just a single issue, it’s that bigger picture of how do we educate and what are we doing about trying to prevent people from adopting that behaviour and making it unacceptable for people to have that behaviour in the city and what are we doing in terms of enforcement and then there is the bit about us all picking it up. So it’s that jigsaw puzzle and we need to come back to you about how that all fits and what the council can do to steer that forwards.

“Every penny we spend on picking up litter is another we aren’t spending on other services. That is a frustration for us as a public service.”

Fly tipping is illegal and those caught can be fined up to £50,000 or face 12 months imprisonment.

It is also a criminal offence to drop litter or throw it from a car, which carries an instant £80 fine.

To report incidents, go to https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/pollution-nuisance/litter-bins-flytipping