Posts tagged tidybs5

More enforcement officers for Bristol

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In the middle of the week, Bristol City Council held its annual budget setting meeting.

As usual, it was riven with the traditional partisan ill feeling and rancour, as well as a rift over council housing rent increases within the ruling Labour group.

However, there was one glimmer of hope amongst the gloom. As a result of an amendment put forward by a group of Labour councillors, the council will be funding more enforcement officers to tackle the city’s seemingly insuperable environmental crime problems.

As Bristol Live reported:

Later in the meeting, the original budget, with a Labour amendment for seven additional litter and fly-tipping enforcement officers, passed by just one vote 33-32.

Seven additional officers is a substantial increase in the complement of the enforcement team and one would hope that these additional resources will make a significant contribution to reducing levels of environmental crime within the city, as well as an increase in the woefully low number of prosecutions carried out, together with the issuing of more fixed penalty notices (FPNs).

Fly-tipping in Morton Street, Barton Hill

Fly-tipping in Morton Street

Fly-tipping in particular seems to have burgeoned during the lockdowns of the last year, fuelled in part by lower numbers of people on the street (and hence less casual surveillance/deterrence. Ed.), plus the twin booms of DIY projects and online shopping (the latter has also given rise to an increase in cardboard presented for recycling, according to Bristol Waste. Ed.).

In the meantime, keep reporting fly-tipping, litter and other environmental crimes to Bristol City Council, Bristolians. It does make a difference.

PS: I’ve been informed the work I do in the local area was mentioned in the meeting when the amendment was discussed.

Fast food litter petition

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in 10 years of campaigning for less litter and fly-tipping in east Bristol’s Lawrence Hill and Easton wards, one constant factor has been litter generated by takeaways, particularly the major franchises like Burger King, KFC and the like.

A petition has now been started on change.org to help tackle part of the problem, namely littering by their motorised customers, some of whom seem to have no compunction at just pitching the packaging their meal came in out of the vehicle window once their appetites have been sated.

Fast food litter

Fast food litter. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The back streets of Easton and Lawrence Hill are a good mile of so from the nearest McDonalds, Burger King or KFC, but that does not stop litter from those outlets blighting the neighbourhood.

The relevant petition is entitled “Fast food restaurants to print vehicle reg on takeaway packaging to discourage littering” and reads as follows:

The recent break in fast food companies business has given us time to be able to start to clean up the streets once littered with empty McDonald’s bags, KFC boxes and other takeaway restaurant litter.
KFC has been back open merely a couple of days and already pictures of carelessly discarded boxes are circulating on the internet. Let’s not slip back to where we were in terms of litter before the Covid lockdown. Let’s make compulsory that all drive through restaurants, who sell takeaway food, have to print the purchasers vehicle registration onto their bags or boxes. This will make it much easier to trace the litter back to the purchaser and result in a fine or preferably litter picking duties. I am proposing the idea of 3-4 stickers around the size of the bottom of the restaurants cup, printed with date/time and car registration, placed onto the bottom of the bags, cups and boxes to make it difficult for repeat litterers to remove their details without spilling the remaining contents into their cars/vans. The restaurants CCTV will back up this evidence with pictures of the driver and vehicle to provide solid evidence that they were the purchaser of said litter. The fine or community hours need to be big enough to cover costs of enforcement officers investigation times, resulting in nobody “slipping the net”.
If we can reach 100,000 signatures I can show clear public interest and go straight to the Secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and demand change. As this could result in a fine for the offenders this will make it much more appealing to the government to pass as law and thus resulting in a cleaner environment for everyone to enjoy.
Please help your local and national environment by merely signing this petition and sharing on social media platforms and as many large groups as you can, making a small but very needed step in the right direction.
Thank you good citizens.

Sign the petition.

If the petition is successful, that just leaves how to resolve the problem of those on foot who litter after eating their takeaways whilst walking home… 🙁

Abandoned cycle removal – a Bristol how-to

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Cycling has undergone an upsurge in popularity in recent times due to it being a healthy and convenient mode of transport.

Nevertheless, this increase in popularity does have some drawbacks, one of which is damaged or abandoned cycles  being left attached to cycle racks or other street furniture, like this typical example on Lawrence Hill by the station steps.

Damaged, abandoned cycle attached to Sheffield stand

Even though I’ve been involved for a decade with trying to stem the tide of litter and fly-tipping that blight our streets, I was uncertain of the procedure to follow to report dumped bikes and get them removed.

I therefore turned to the Community Engagement Team of Bristol Waste, a council-owned company responsible for recycling and waste collections and street cleansing, for advice.

The relevant part of their response is quoted below.

The process is – logging a web form under street cleansing (https://www.bristol.gov.uk/streets-travel/street-that-needs-cleaning) and then provide the details of where the bike is. The crew will go and cut it off and dispose of it. If it looks like its owned by someone, then we put a notice on for 3 weeks and then go back and remove it if still there.

That seems very simple indeed.

Thanks, for your helpful reply, Bristol Waste!

I now hope others will join me in keeping the streets free of abandoned clutter.

NB:: as abandoned bikes are not specifically mentioned in the drop-down list of items that can be reported for attention, I chose to class it as ‘Litter‘. 😀

Over £4K – the cost of dropping 6 cigarette ends in Bristol

Six litter louts have been ordered by magistrates to pay a total of £671.84 each for dropping cigarette ends in central Bristol, making a grand total of £4,031.04, yesterday’s Bristol Post reports.

The individual total of £671.84 is broken down as follows: £440 fine, £187.84 in prosecution costs and a £44 victim surcharge.

All the defendants have been given 28 days to pay.

Cigarette ends are litter too. Disposing of them properly will avoid the risk of a fine.

They were all originally caught littering on 9th and 10th November last year by civil enforcement officers working for Bristol City Council (the so-called litter police. Ed.) and were issued with £75 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for their filthiness. Had the penalties been paid within 10 days, the culprits would only have had to pay £50 each.

As it is, they repeatedly ignored correspondence from Bristol City Council, as well as their summonses to Bristol Magistrates Court, as none of the defendants could be bothered to appear in person.

On average, more than 1,000 people have been issued with FPNs for environmental crimes such as littering and dog fouling each month since the ‘litter police’ started their work.

Bristol Clean Streets logoIt’s good to see the City Council taking a tough line on litter. However, far more ‘litter police’ are needed to cover the rest of the city in addition to the centre. They have made the odd foray into a council-owned public park or two and an occasional jolly to Stapleton Road, but far more rigorous action is going to be needed by the local authority if it is to have any hope of meeting the objectives of Mayor Marvin Rees’ Bristol Clean Streets initiative, i.e. that Bristol will be measurably cleaner by 2020 in terms of litter, fly-tipping, fly-posting, graffiti, dog fouling, chewing gum and weeds (especially as the latter were only being eradicated last year if residents made enough of a fuss! Ed.).

The simple fact is that there would less strain on the public purse and less work for the council in keeping the streets and parks clean if people didn’t drop litter, allow their dogs to foul all over the place, dump fly-tipping and commit other environmental crimes.

Nevertheless, it is good to see that Bristol City Council and local magistrates are sending out a clear message to litter louts to keep Bristol tidy – or its centre at any rate.

Finally, in an opinion piece in the Bristol Post, Tristan Cork takes filthy Bristolians to task for the deplorable state residents leave the city’s parks in every time the weather gets warm. Meanwhile the council has warned people who leave rubbish in parks next to overflowing bins that they will be fined £100 if caught and that the “litter police” are now patrolling parks and have been instructed to issue fixed penalty notices for rubbish deposited around bins, as well as anything left on the grass.

Littered with innuendo

Yesterday’s Bristol Post reported on the first month of operation of what it’s dubbed the “litter police”, the private contractors brought in by Bristol City Council to take enforcement action on such environmental crimes as dropping cigarette ends, littering, failing to clear up the mess of one’s dog, tagging and spitting.

They’ve had a busy first month, issuing 1,368 fixed penalty notices with a total value of nearly £70,000.

Whilst this long overdue enhanced enforcement against the untidy is welcome (as a founder of Tidy BS5 I wholeheartedly support their engagement by BCC. Ed.), it’s not the numbers that interest me, but the Post’s choice of language, particularly at the top of the article, which is reproduced below.

sub-heading under headline reads the civil enforcement officers had a busy first few weeks on the job

Look between the headline and the byline and you’ll see the following sentence: “The civil enforcement officers had a busy first few weeks on the job“.

All you Brits can stop sniggering.

Now!

On the job” in the sense of something related to work is, to the best of my knowledge, an import from American English that has in recent decades started appearing increasingly in British corporate jargon. During my youth over 4 decades ago, the phrase had only one meaning and that had salacious connotations.

Collins Dictionary gives the following definitions for the phrase in British English:

  • actively engaged in one’s employment;
  • (taboo) engaged in sexual intercourse.

As regards the first definition, this could cover tuition given during employment (e.g. on the job training): no further explanation is required for the second.

Railway Path work day this weekend

Work Day posterThis coming Saturday 23rd September, Up Our Street will be organising a work day on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path from 10am to 3pm.

Up Our Street will be testing a ‘Play Zone’ on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path for four weeks to see if small interventions can improve the experience of the path for all users.

Volunteers are needed to get involved with painting and stencilling, cutting back vegetation, litter picking and making a sculpture. Ideas for further possible improvements will also be welcome.

In return volunteers will be offered lunch, tea and a rewarding day in return. This project is supported by URBACT and is part of a community research project with the University of Bristol.

To take part, please come to Owen Square Park (map).

For further details or express your interest, contact Celia on community [at] eastonandlawrencehill.org.uk or telephone 0117 954 2834.

Tidy Barton Hill

Bristol Clean Streets logoYesterday, along with Kurt James, Bristol City Council’s co-ordinator for the Bristol Clean Streets campaign, and local resident Eric Green, I joined a group of volunteers from Tawfiq Mosque in Barton Hill (usually rendered as “Bart Nil” in the local vernacular. Ed.😉 ) for a community litter pick.

Starting at 10.30 in the morning, we split into 6 groups and tackled six different parts of the area for the next 2 hours, picking up litter and noting any larger, fly-tipped items for reporting later.

While picking, we did get passers-by thanking us for our efforts, but ultimately I’m sure all those taking part would prefer it if our fellow citizens didn’t mess the area up in the first place. 😀

It was a successful event and I was most encouraged by the cheerful enthusiasm and commitment of those involved. The photo below shows just some of the stuff we collected.

litter pickers and litter picked

Some of the litter picked up assembled at the Urban Park collection point.

Your correspondent understands the mosque plans to make this a regular event. If so, I’ll try and get along again to assist.

In the meantime, if you spot a problem on a Bristol street, be it an abandoned vehicle, litter, fly-tipping, a blocked drain or anything else, please report it to the council for attention.

Child superheroes launch campaign against litter

Superheroes picture

Photo courtesy of Bristol City Council

Local ‘superhero’ schoolchildren are the stars of a new publicity campaign to reduce litter in Bristol.

As part of Mayor Marvin Rees’ Clean Streets campaign, children from schools across Bristol have been taking part in litter picks to improve their neighbourhoods and now they’re encouraging all Bristolians to do their bit by not dropping litter in the first place.

Each year Bristol Waste Company collects 3,700 tonnes of litter from the city’s streets, not including rubbish that is fly-tipped or residents’ residual waste. That’s equivalent to the weight of over 290 double-decker buses.

Chesney, one of the children taking part in the campaign, has been helping with the clean-up as he felt sad at seeing litter in the park. “You try to make a difference but then people just litter again, and it’s like a consistent circle.” says Chesney.

Taking inspiration from these youngsters, the council is asking everyone in Bristol to help keep the city clean. The message is simple: Use a bin or take your litter with you.

Find out more at bristol.gov.uk/superheroes.

Better news for a Tidy BS5

Tidy BS5 logoFollowing on from the last rather gloomy post on residents’ efforts to get Bristol’s Easton and Lawrence Hill wards (roughly covered by the BS5 postcode. Ed.) tidier, some more positive news has been received from Up Our Street.

Celia, the community engagement officer, has emailed to report on a meeting she organised with some traders on Stapleton Road and commercial waste contractors earlier this week.

She writes:

It was a lively meeting, but some progress I think was made, and SUEZ, Bristol Waste and Biffa are going to visit their clients on the road to encourage people to move away from large bins on the highway to sack collection. Most traders seemed to agree that removal of the bins would help by taking away the focal points which attract so much dumping. Bristol City Council are going to have two additional enforcement officers working in the area soon, with a focus on collecting evidence so hopefully this will increase the speed and number of enforcement actions against illegal waste dumping.

cfly-tipping in Nicholas Road

Additional enforcement is coming to Nicholas Road and the rest of Easton & Lawrence Hill

Getting traders to stop using the 1280-litre Eurobins (also known by some as skip bins. Ed.) would be great news, besides which additional enforcement from the city council will also be welcome. It might just help to break the back of the fly-tipping problem. However, one has to ask what’s being done about education and encouragement, the 2 other words beginning with an “e mentioned in my previous post.

There’s nothing on education measures in Celia’s email but there is some encouraging news on other matters.

Celia continues:

Another area of progress was that we got our first two businesses to sign the Tidy BS5 Pledge! Tovey’s Seafood and First Choice Florists. I think it would be timely to visit all businesses on Stapleton Road inviting them to sign the pledge.

Finally, Up Our Street, local residents and Easton councillor Afzal Shah, amongst others, are also working on a motion to be presented to Bristol City Council for a cumulative impact area*. This would amongst other things stop planning permissions for new hot food takeaways of which both wards already have plenty and which are a major source of litter (not to mention food for the local gull and rat population. Ed.). Celia concludes by noting this proposals was also supported at the meeting with local traders.

* – Bristol currently has 5 cumulative impact areas covering the city centre, Gloucester Road, Whiteladies Road and Southville and Bedminster areas.

The good, the bad & the ugly

The original title of this post was going to be “How seriously are Bristol Clean Streets and a tidy BS5 being taken?” However, the title of Sergio Leone’s 1966 Spaghetti Western seemed more appropriate.

The good

Bristol Clean Streets logoTwo weeks ago on Saturday on 6th May, there was a great community effort in East Bristol to clean up local streets and public open spaces as part of the Tidy BS5 “Beating the Bounds” event (posts passim).

This event attracted some high-level support from, amongst others, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, Kurt James who’s leading the council’s Bristol Clean Streets initiative, Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy, and local councillors, with whom your ‘umble scribe was able to discuss matters.

Beating the Bounds St George Park

Some of the Beating the Bounds litter pickers in St George Park

It should be noted for the record that both Marvin and Kurt completed the whole 5 km route, clearing loads of crud on their way.

The bad & the ugly

Serious doubts are now being expressed, not just by local campaigners but councillors too, about the official commitment to tidier streets in Easton and Lawrence Hill wards, as something is clearly going amiss between the fine words coming out of the Counts Louse (aka City Hall. Ed.) and what is actually happening on the streets.

These doubts are being reinforced by recent press coverage that the council and its agents cannot even keep city centre amenities clean and tidy, in addition to which another report suggests that citizen action to remove litter is being discouraged.

Fly-tipping seems to be on the increase again; and that which is reported is not always collected in a timely manner (within 2 working days of being reported, according to the council’s website. Ed.) or the first time it is reported. On the latter point I speak from personal experience, having had to report one site three times before it was finally removed.

However, third time lucky is not the worst of it. Look at the picture below. You may notice the round pink sticker on the bin. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a sticker that was affixed by Bristol Waste to fly-tipped waste for collection as part the communal bins trial near the end of last year (posts passim). That means that particular instance of fly-tipping has been awaiting collection for over 6 months!

6 month old fly-tipping in Easton

Tagged as fly-tipping in November 2016 by Bristol Waste, still awaiting removal in May 2017

When we started campaigning some years ago, Tidy BS5 supporters were informed that bin lorry crews and street sweepers are supposed to report fly-tipping for collection. Clearly those paying their regular visits to St Mark’s Grove are suffering from either actual or selective blindness and illiteracy.

Although the communal bins for household waste have now all disappeared from the Stapleton Road corridor, the trade bins still remain and – just like the ones that were removed – are still acting as magnets for fly-tipping.

Stapleton Road trade bins with associated fly-tipping

Trade bins on Stapleton Road are still attracting both fly-tipped trade and domestic waste

I’ve asked the council whether there’s any legal means of removing the trade bins from the street as they’re not only attracting fly-tipping, but fly-posting and graffiti too – two more targets for the Bristol Clean Streets initiative. Not only that, but they look ugly and take up a lot of public space. Should the public purse be subsidising local business by providing public storage facilities for private property?

Litter and street cleaning also fall under the Bristol Clean Streets initiative. Just how well are they going?

The answer would appear to be that they’re not really going anywhere. All streets are supposed to be cleaned regularly, but this photograph of conditions on the ground in Croydon Street in March 2017 tells a different story. The leaves came off the trees during autumn storms in November 2016. This clearly illustrates how infrequently and/or badly that street is cleaned.

Croydon Street leaf litter

Croydon Street, March 2017. Leaf litter left uncleared 4 months after autumn storms

When contacted, the council acknowledged the the level of cleanliness was below standard, but that parked vehicles make it difficult to get street cleansing vehicles in to deal with it. However, one doesn’t have to be a genius to consider viable and acceptable alternatives… like sending in a bloke with a brush instead!

It’s not just above ground that litter accumulates. One of my regular routes is the pedestrian subway under from Easton Road under the Easton Way dual carriageway. This 1960s planning mistake is not the most pleasant pedestrian facility to use. However its use is made even less attractive by it seemingly being permanently full of litter (we won’t mention the persistent and all-pervasive smell of urine. Ed.). This state of affairs only seems to be alleviated somewhat a few days after I or other public-spirited residents report it as requiring attention.

Finally, let’s turn to fly-posting, another target for Bristol Clean Streets. This too, like dirty streets and fly-tipping, is supposed to be removed within 2 working days of being reported according to the council website. But what’s actually happening on the ground?

Easton Road fly-posting

Fly-posting on Easton Road. Reported at Easter. Still there in mid-May.

Your ‘umble scribe reported the above instance at Easter. However, one month later in mid-May it was still there. I understand it has now been removed by a local resident taking matters into their own hands. In addition, I’m aware that other local residents bothered by fly-posting do likewise and remove it themselves without involving the council’s enforcement team who on the available evidence are too busy to deal with BS5 or incapable of doing so.

Conclusion

It would appear that Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste have taken their eye off the ball locally following the initial flurry of enforcement activity and education that accompanied the communal bins trial and matters are once again slowly declining.

Whilst regular litter picks and other action by local residents should be continue to be encouraged, there also needs to be consistent action and pressure on the less tidy and civic-minded of our local residents by both Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste.

In addition, to encouragement, this action and pressure can be summarised in a further two words starting with “e“, i.e. education and enforcement; education to treat our local streets better and enforcement when the encouragement and education are insufficient.

Without additional effort the Bristol Clean Streets initiative and aspirations for a Tidy BS5 will just end up on the bonfire of council failures funded by local residents out of their increasingly unaffordable and poor value for money council tax.

Do you agree or disagree with the above analysis? Comment below.

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