Councils spent almost as much cleaning litter as collecting bins

Government figures have revealed councils in Merseyside are shelling out millions of pounds each year to combat litter and fly tipping.

Local authorities across the area spent a combined total of £23.3m on street cleaning in 2019/20.

That's nearly as much as what was spent on bin collections, with councils in Merseyside spending £28.4m on waste collection last year.

In both Knowsley and St Helens, the council actually spent more money on cleaning up litter and fly tipping than they did on bin collections.

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In Knowsley, the council spent £2.9m on street cleaning and £2.4m on waste collection while St Helens council spent £1.7m on litter and £1.6m on bins.

Liverpool council saw the highest cost per head, however, with the £10.1m spent on ridding roads and pavements of rubbish working out as £20.23 for every resident.

That compares to a spend of £9.45 per person in St Helens.

Though litter has always been a prevalent problem, the issue has ramped up during the coronavirus pandemic with littered beaches, overflowing bins, and parks left strewn with bottles and wrappers.

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A recent survey from InYourArea found that 85% people say litter is a big problem where they live and 64% believe it has gotten worse since lockdown began to ease.

Councils can currently hand out fixed penalty notices (FPNs), which is a type of fine, for littering of up to £150.

In an effort to combat the problem, the Liverpool ECHO has joined forces with Clean Up Britain with a new campaign titled, Don’t Trash Our Future.

You can sign our petition, which has the aim of reaching 100,000 signatures so we can lobby the Government to change the legislation and shed the country of its long-held reputation as a litter-plagued nation.

The campaign is backed by JLS singer-turned-farmer JB Gill, who said: "It’s great to see that people recognise that litter is a public health concern and a major problem.

"The only way to stop the damage being done to our health, nature and wildlife is to sign the Don’t Trash our Future petition, object to local councils not enforcing fines and demand a higher penalty for those dropping litter."

Research from Clean Up Britain found that 16% of councils do not issue any FPNs for littering at all, and a further 56% issue less than one per week.

The InYourArea survey found 97% of people think councils should enforce the law against littering.

Most people don't think their council is doing a great job of dealing with litter – on a scale of one to 10, the average score given was four.

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81% said they didn't think there are enough bins and they think the maximum FPN for littering should be increased, with 67% saying it should be more than the current £150.

Jeremy Paxman, patron of Clean Up Britain, said: "There is only one sustainable and effective solution to littering: changing the behaviour of people who do it. Nothing else will work.

"It pollutes the environment. It's dangerous to humans and animals.

"It depresses people because mucky surroundings make them feel worthless. It's expensive – councils across the UK spend over a billion pounds a year trying to clean it up."

In England alone, councils spent nearly £694m between them on street cleaning last year, which works out at £12.33 for every person.

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