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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
War on litter and graffiti urged
A rundown inner city area
MPs: Councils need to do more
Tougher action is needed to tackle environmental crimes such as litter, fly-tipping and graffiti, MPs say.

They say there "appears to be a link between litter and graffiti... and drug peddling, muggings and burglary".

Police Community Support Officers have a crucial role in enforcing the law as people are afraid of violence if they challenge perpetrators, the MPs say.

They commend one council which tackled fly-posting by sticking "cancelled" notices on all offending material.

But they also put most of the blame for historic levels of graffiti, litter and fly-posting on local councils, saying they had "an absence of will and resolve".

Sofa cleared by park volunteers
People can just get off the beaten track, dump their rubbish without being seen and get away again
Snowdonia Society volunteer coordinator Paul Lewis

Now, the MPs say, local authorities "must bend themselves with greater enthusiasm to tackle" the issue.

The committee report comes as the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, backed by 122 MPs, prepares to call for a zero tolerance approach to graffiti.

The chairman of the committee, Tory MP Peter Ainsworth, said: "There can scarcely be a town or village across the country where the local environment is not damaged or defaced by heaps of rubbish, fast-food litter, walls covered in untidy and illegal posters, obscene or ugly graffiti or excessive neighbourhood noise."

The report, Fly-Tipping, Fly-Posting, Litter, Graffiti and Noise, concludes that "the war on local environmental blight has to be mainstreamed within local authorities".

Grey line

On fly-tipping it backs the penalty for illegal dumping of waste being more than doubled from 20,000 to 50,000 with community sentences also introduced so offenders are forced to clear up other fly-tipped waste.

It is obvious that littering in particular is a pretty mainstream activity which easily becomes habitual and which can yet devastate the visual appeal of a place
Environmental Audit Committee report

It says the current penalties for companies or individuals who fly-post material are "derisory and no deterrent" to offenders. It urges the government to make it easier for local councils to take offenders to court.

The MPs say: "Those offenders who fly-post on street furniture must be caught and prosecuted; the blight they create must not be ignored, or their damage treated as too expensive or frequent to remediate."

The MPs also warn the law needs to be changed to ensure local authorities "stay ahead of the game", pointing to the "increasingly grey line between the commercial world of fly-posting and the use of graffiti for similar or identical ends".

Noise

On graffiti and litter, the MPs say they heard evidence that both were on the rise, particularly in the poorer parts of our cities and towns.

But they felt this evidence was "possibly illusory" and it could be just that people were more likely to complain about such issues now.

Landfill site, AP
Fly-tipping can avoid landfill costs

Whichever of these two options is the truth, the MPs say: "It is obvious that littering in particular is a pretty mainstream activity which easily becomes habitual and which can yet devastate the visual appeal of a place."

On noise, they urge all levels of government to deal with it in the same way as they would visual blight.

They urge ministers "to make the connection that areas of the country where there are excessive noise complaints often border upon or are themselves areas subject to the degrading influence of litter, graffiti and everything else that goes with them."




SEE ALSO:
Litter louts face instant fines
15 Jul 04  |  England
EU waste rules fuel fly-tip fears
16 Jul 04  |  Science/Nature
Report criticises landfill policy
07 Jul 04  |  Oxfordshire
Less rubbish boosts council funds
16 May 04  |  Oxfordshire


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