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News

New powers to improve local environment

Defra : 26 January, 2006  (Company News)
Everyone will soon have access to detailed information on the cleanliness and quality of their local environment, Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, announced at a meeting with council leaders today.
Everyone will soon have access to detailed information on the cleanliness and quality of their local environment, Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, announced at a meeting with council leaders today.

Over the course of the next two years, all districts in England will be scrutinised on everything from the number of weed-ridden and litter-strewn streets, to the quality of the litter bin collections.

The expansion of the Local Environment Quality Survey for England will be the most detailed ever, and will see all the information available online, and eventually down to postcode level. The survey will be carried out by the 'Keep Britain Tidy' campaign.

Given the new survey, and the increased importance the public is placing on the quality of the local environment, Mrs Beckett urged all local authorities to make the issue a top priority:

'The quality of the area in which people live has a huge impact on the quality of their lives in general. That is why improving the quality of Britain's local environment is a top priority for me and for Defra.

'This new survey will allow us, and local authorities, to see how effectively the environment is being managed at a local level, as well as highlight areas which are performing poorly.

'But, more importantly, it will enable every member of the public to do the same. For this reason, every local authority has a responsibility to ensure its communities are ones people can be proud of.'

A recent MORI poll placed clean streets third, behind only low levels of crime and health services in a survey of what makes somewhere a 'good place to live'.

Mrs Beckett therefore highlighted the importance of new powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act to help deal with the minority who continued to litter, graffiti and fly-tip. She said:

'There has been a real change in public behaviour thanks to campaigns and education, with more people than ever taking notice, and care, of their surroundings.

'However, there continues to be a minority who have little respect for neither their neighbourhood nor their neighbours.

'It is the local authorities which have the responsibility to ensure this minority does not continue to fly-tip, litterbug and graffiti. We have given them the powers to clamp down on such behaviour, now they must start using them.'

Some of the new powers contained within the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (2005) have already come into force. These include increases to the penalties for fly-tipping, tougher rules on abandoned cars, as well as clarification that those caught dropping chewing gum or cigarette butts can be issued with on-the-spot fines of 50.

On April 6, another raft of measures will be announced. Most notably, local authorities will be able to issue fixed penalty notices for a number of new offences; there will also be new powers to deal with fly-posting and nuisance lighting.

Mrs Beckett said further support is planned to assist local authorities in improving the quality of the local environment. This will include an examination of skills gaps and training provision, with the aim of providing accredited courses:

'These courses will benefit the local authority leaders of the future, but with the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act now in force it is up to the council leaders of the present to ensure that local environment quality is given the attention the public wants.'

The signs are that although people have begun to notice positive changes on the ground, many streets are still awash with litter. The last LEQ Survey for England showed three quarters of the 12,000 sites monitored were strewn with cigarette butts, while fast food litter had risen by 450 per cent in just four years.
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