Huge cost of Suffolk’s litter problem revealed

LITTER-louts and fly-tippers cost Suffolk more than �4.3m last year and there are fears the figure could soar with the closure of seven waste sites.

On the day when the Suffolk Spring Clean 2011 campaign is launched to clean up the countryside, figures collected from Suffolk's borough and district councils show the true extent of the county's liitter problem.

Waveney District Council has budgeted just under �800,000 for this year to keep its streets and public spaces clean, while Suffolk Coastal District Council spent �576,000 on its street sweeping and park and litter squads last year.

In the west of the county, St Edmundsbury Borough Council spent �1.3m on 'cleansing services and associated costs', collecting 1,700 tonnes of litter and sweepings from the roads and streets and another 10.4 tonnes of litter from its stretch of the A14 and A11 in partnership with Forest Heath District Council.

Ipswich Borough Council spent �460,000 on clearing away litter and another �24,000 on removing fly-tipped rubbish.

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Mid Suffolk paid out more than �180,000 for litter-picking teams and funding villages to pay for community caretakers, while Babergh District Council forked out �400,000 on street cleaning.

Now in its fourth year, Suffolk Spring Clean –which runs alongside BBC Radio Suffolk's Don't Be A Tosser campaign, led by Mark Murphy – is going from strength to strength.

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For two weeks, district and borough councils, co-ordinated by the Creating the Greenest County initiative, will provide litter-picking equipment to residents and bags for collection.

Litter officers will be ensuring that groups are given both black bags and clear recycling sacks to ensure as much as possible is recycled.

David Barker, chair of the Creating the Greenest County Delivery Partnership Board, said he believed the Suffolk Spring Clean effort would continue to have a 'real impact'.

He said: 'I have no doubt Spring Clean Suffolk, combined with Don't be a Tosser, has had a real impact. Suffolk is a cleaner, better place but we are not complacent and realise there is still a lot to do.'

• Suffolk County Council has also unveiled its new fly-tipping response team – a measure that has already come under fire.

Andrew Stringer, a Green Party representative on Suffolk County Council, said the new team was a poor attempt to make up for the loss of the seven well-used waste sites that close in May.

The sites include those at Southwold and Beccles which are to remain open for six months, after Waveney District Council agreed to spend �140,000 to keep them running.

Mr Stringer said: 'There is no excuse for fly-tipping, however a minority of people feel it is acceptable. That minority may increase if we put more hurdles in the way of doing the right thing.

'It all smacks of panic and is not very well planned. To be honest, all it's going to be is a couple of people who worked at the waste sites kept on with short-term contracts.'

Mark Deer, the council's household waste recycling centre services manager, confirmed the two new members of staff would be former waste site employees and would begin their roles on May 9.

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