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District councils in England are urging people going to parks and green spaces to dispose of their rubbish safely and responsibly, ahead of an expected surge in visits during this weekend’s mini-heatwave.
The District Councils’ Network – which represents 187 district councils in England, which are responsible for maintaining parks and beauty spots – is calling on the public to use bins but to take their rubbish home if they are full. It is also asking dog walkers to make sure they clean up their pets’ mess.
Since 4 July, when lockdown was eased, the volume of additional rubbish, including single-use plastic discarded in English parks by the public, has increased, park managers have reported. The partial lifting of lockdown led to millions more people using the green spaces to meet, exercise, eat and drink.
A recent survey by Keep Britain Tidy found that more than half of the country’s parks have had to use extra resources to deal with the issues, including litter and antisocial behaviour, since lockdown was eased. Of those, 81% had to spend more on clearing up litter, 79% on bin emptying and 72% on maintaining public order or enforcing lockdown rules.
“It is great that more people have been able to enjoy safely spending time in our parks, green spaces and beauty spots, while much of life has been on hold these last few months” said Dan Humphreys, the District Councils’ Network lead member for enhancing quality of life. “However, sadly this appears to have come at a cost, with some councils seeing a sharp spike in littering, dog fouling and antisocial behaviour from a small minority of people who sadly ruin it for everyone.”
Among the councils devising new ways to tackle the problem, Rushmoor borough council has joined forces with Hampshire constabulary to encourage residents to use green spaces safely and responsibly, and has launched an app for visitors to report litter “grotspots”.
The litter strewn in parks and on beaches also includes abandoned items of PPE such as face masks and gloves, which contain plastic.