Communities across the country were today (31 January 2015) urged to roll up their sleeves and get behind a nationwide spring clean in order to spruce up our favourite public places.
Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins has announced a ‘community clear up day’ which will take place on Saturday 21 March 2015 – the first day of spring. The minister is calling on people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and lend a hand to tidy up in time for summer. He is joined in this call to action by Environment Minister Dan Rogerson who has given his support to this event. Efforts will focus on city centres, high streets, villages and parks – anywhere that could turn from eyesore to asset.
They were both appearing at a Select Committee hearing this week where MPs have been given evidence of how people across the country are fed up with the way litter blights their communities.
The latest figures suggest councils in England spend more than £800 million every year on street cleansing. Ministers believe that communities want to take pride in their local area and public spaces. They are encouraging people to make this a fun activity bringing groups together with a common interest as well as freeing up millions of pounds that can be spent on other vital public services.
The Department for Communities and Local Government will provide a toolkit of posters and leaflets that can be tailored for each community and in the coming weeks it will also bring together great examples of what has already been done to tackle litter louts in local areas.
Mr Hopkins said:
This is a call to arms for communities great and small to help us end this litter scourge by taking greater pride in our neighbourhoods. It is time to roll up our sleeves and bring the broom back out of the cupboard because by looking after our local areas we can help make them better places to work and live.
I also urge the manufacturers of items commonly associated with littering – such as soft drinks, chewing gum, crisps, confectionary and fast food – to join us in this day and contribute to the clear up of our streets and public places. A number of them have made supportive statements to the Committee inquiry so I trust many will get involved.
Environment Minister Dan Rogerson added:
Litter has a huge impact on the quality of our streets and public spaces and we all have a responsibility to keep our communities tidy. Government is introducing a charge on plastic bags and supporting initiatives such as the National Litter Prevention Commitment to encourage businesses to reduce litter through improved product design and labelling for consumers.
While we have made great progress in recent years, we still need to get to a place where everyone takes responsibility for their own actions and their own rubbish – initiatives such as this help us achieve that by bringing individuals and communities together to take pride in their areas.
Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Phil Barton said:
Litter blights communities up and down the country and the government’s lead with this clean-up initiative is very welcome. We all have a role to play in keep the places where we live, work and play clean and tidy and a national clean-up is a great way to encourage more people to take some responsibility and pride for their environment.
Kenny Logan, campaign chairman at The Clean Up Britain campaign, welcomed the announcement and said:
Although litter is a very big problem for the UK, there are also thousands of ‘clean up groups’ across the country who we are sure will actively embrace the day and get heavily involved on March 21. This will be a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages, everywhere, to clean up their communities, and show how much pride they have in where they live themselves and, more generally, in Britain’s beautiful landscape.