Sunday, 13 November 2016

New England, Same Old Problem

Green Party litter pick group
Peterborough Green Party Litter Pick Team

New England is much like any other part of Peterborough. It's leafy, it's home to a thriving community, and the people who live there are lovely.

And just like in many other areas across our fair city, a minority of people are intent on spoiling it by dropping litter and fly tipping.

This morning I joined a small yet eager group of Peterborough Green Party members and residents on a clean up of the streets around Eaglesthorpe at the request of local resident Jess. I'm not for one moment saying Eaglesthorpe is any worse than any other Peterborough street when it comes to litter and fly tipping. I am saying it's just as bad, and when Jess asked for our help in giving it a tidy up we were very happy to get involved.

14 bags of litter
All this from one very average Peterborough street

Group of litter pickers
We were lucky with the weather today,
but any weather is good for picking litter!

It isn't my goal to become an expert in littering, but when you've done a few litter picks you get to know who's doing it and why. The causes are complicated. It has nothing at all to do with the presence of bins (there are two in Eaglesthorpe), but a lot to do with how people regard their own community. It only takes one or two habitual litterers or fly tippers to bring an area down, and we have found that wherever you have fly tipping you very quickly have more fly tipping. This is why it's so important that you contact Peterborough City Council as soon as you seen any fly tipped waste in your street.

How do you do that? It's easy, you just call this number...

01733 747474

You can also report fly tipping using the My Peterborough app.

The council promises to remove fly tipped waste within two working days.

If you're not sure what I mean by 'fly tipping' this photograph, taken where Eaglesthorpe meets St Paul's Road, will illustrate.

Fly tipped bed
Human beings did this.
I have no words.

UPDATE: Within 24 hours of us reporting it, Peterborough City Council removed the fly-tipped bed. Thank you Peterborough CC!

There are no words really, are there? Someone living in our community thinks it's fair enough to dump their unwanted divan bed under some trees on a residential street.

Our streets are not a rubbish tip and the people in our communities are not rubbish. This kind of behaviour, inflicted on some human beings onto other human beings causes misery. It is brought about either by sheer laziness or by unscrupulous traders who charge local people to take away their rubbish then dump it on our streets. How is this ever okay? It isn't. Not ever.

And how's this for a lovely Autumnal scene? At the other end of Eaglesthorpe, someone has decided that the best way to get rid of their unwanted bathroom sink is to smash to bits and leave it in a bush.

Broken sink in a bush

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

I struggle to get into the mindset of fly tippers. I can only assume that they close their eyes to the harm they cause in communities. As communities, what should our response be? Is it our responsibility to contact the council? I would argue that yes, it is. It's my belief that when we all start to play our part in making our local area better we begin to have an effect on the causes of fly tipping and litter and on the people who are doing most of the fly tipping and littering. When we all take pride in our little patch, especially if it's a stretch of street and not just our own gardens, we create the best kind of infectious virus that can spread right around communities very quickly: it's called pride in where we live.

Bags of litter
Inaugural use of our new Green litter bag hoops.

A Community Problem with a Community Solution

There are many reasons why Peterborough Green Party undertakes monthly litter picks. Obviously, we want to play our part in removing rubbish from our streets, particularly the stuff that has been there a long time and is slowly suffocating the ground beneath. However, there's also a deeper reason. We believe that when members of the public see us picking up litter that we did not create they begin to understand that littering and fly tipping are a community problem with a community solution.

Posted by Julie Howell on Sunday, 13 November 2016

We will often engage residents in conversation when we're out litter-picking, and welcome being stopped to talk about what we're doing. It's very common for passing motorists to slow down and wind down a window to thank us for caring about where they live, especially when we don't live there ourselves. This gets the problem talked about and energises residents to believe that picking up litter, especially litter that you didn't drop, is a good thing. We rely far too much on our city council to keep out streets clear of litter. Isn't it better for the council to focus on the stuff that's difficult or hazardous for residents to deal with (fly tipping) and for us all to do a bit, regardless of who made the mess and why? Perhaps this is a controversial view, but should it be? Yes, everyone should pick up after themselves. But they don't, do they?

Video transcript: I’m in Eaglesthorpe today which is in New England which is a different part of the city. We’re doing a litter pick here. Unfortunately, there’s a good example of fly tipping here. I’ll just show you. A bed has been fly tipped. It’s just at the end of the road hear where Eaglesthorpe meets St Paul’s Road. It’s opposite a very nice residential care home. There’s a complete bed set. Obviously we’ll be asking the council to take it away. There’s the bag of litter that I’ve picked up from a street that has two litter bins in close proximity which is hugely frustrating. I lot of the litter that we’ve picked up is typical Peterborough litter: a lot of cigarette packets, a lot of beer cans, fast food wrappers, children’s toys. As you can see this fly tipping also means I can’t pick up the rubbish that’s underneath because it’s trapped under there which is really frustrating. We’re doing this litter pick today at the request of a resident. We always welcome residents’ suggestions. We do our litter picks once a month in all different parts of Peterborough. We usually do them for an hour and a half, from 10:30am to midday on a Sunday morning. We’ve been very lucky with the weather today but even if it’s raining we still do it. If anyone’s got any suggestions for anywhere else we can do please let us know. Right, I’m going to get on with it.

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