Harness the Environmental Protection Act,1990 to clean Bristol's streets

Many historic and beautiful streets in central Bristol, and in the city as a whole, are in a squalid and increasingly unpleasant state.

The pavements and even the roads are thick with encrusted chewing gum. It does not seem that the Council is making any effort at all to clean away this disgusting blight. Examples: the pavement and roads outside night clubs and restaurants along Park Street and around the Triangle; areas where people wait, such as bus stops, are also particularly affected.

The Council should act upon its powers under Section 88 of the Environmental Protection Act, 1990, and impose fixed penalty fines, known as PCNs, on the people responsible.

The Council’s Clean & Green team had in the past a Web page devoted to this subject. This page talked of action taken in 2010 and gave an estimated cost of 50 pence for removing a single piece of gum.  However, although a campaign was waged in 2010, its long term effects were not strong, as the condition of the streets remains very poor.

Why is the Council failing to take effective action when it has the legal powers to do so? Could it be because money is tight? This is not an adequate defence. The Council can afford to employ officers to patrol the streets and impose PCNs for parking offences, so why can it not employ pairs of people - even the same traffic wardens - to impose PCNs for littering offences, as it is legally entitled to do? As these fines are £75, and the gum and other litter is considerable, the costs of patrolling and cleaning could be at least partly funded by the fines, & perhaps even fully so, judging by the Council’s own cost estimates in 2010.

Why the contribution is important

It is disgusting not to be able to walk the streets without the risk of gum adhering to one’s shoes.

It is distressing and unpleasant to live in a city whose streets are so dirty & a blot on Bristol’s reputation. And how can we expect visitors and tourists to develop positive views of this city and its people?

What is needed is behavioural change on the part of those doing the littering. Isn’t it true that behavioural change is most likely when people have to bear the negative consequences of their behaviours? When people are not affected by the unpleasant consequences of their actions, there is little motivation to change their anti-social behaviour. If litterers had to pay £75 for dropping their gum (cigarette butts and so on), how many fines would it would take before they decided that littering was too expensive an activity for them?

But if the Council continues simply to clean up the cleanable litter (cigarette butts, cans, plastic of all forms) that people leave behind, what incentive does that give people to change their behaviour? What prospect is there then of living in a “Clean & Green” city?

by jseymour on December 19, 2013 at 12:00PM

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