Wales

Councils frustrated at £40m annual litter bill in Wales

  • 7 June 2011
  • From the section Wales

The cost of clearing up litter from Wales' streets and countryside costs more than £40m every year.

Councils say they are frustrated at the money spent and have called for a tax on litter-generating businesses such as take-aways.

Some have issued over 200 fines in the last year but others none at all.

The findings are revealed in BBC Wales' Week In, Week Out programme which follows officials trying to tackle littering and confronts litter louts.

Some local authorities, like Rhondda Cynon Taff, have a zero-tolerance approach to litter, issuing about 200 fixed penalty notices a year.

But the programme finds that other councils have not issued any.

It is the job of Wales' 22 local authorities to keep the streets and countryside clean and they tell the programme they think the money would be much better spent on other services.

Mark Williams, of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), said the money could "do so much more across Wales for many other services" such as social services, highways and education.

"Spending so much money on picking up litter is like throwing money away," he said.

Take-away tax

Mr Williams says Wales should look at new laws, similar to those under consideration by MPs in Westminster.

They include a take-away tax for fast-food outlets, to be spent specifically on clearing up litter, and also greater powers to make drivers responsible for anyone who throws litter out of their vehicle.

The Welsh Government says it is monitoring the planned new law aimed at motorists in England and that it is also frustrated so much money is being spent tackling litter.

Week In Week Out follows two enforcement officers from Rhondda Cynon Taff Council as they tackle a youth who throws away a bottle, a motorist who drops her cigarette and school children who throw away their litter.

Meanwhile, presenter Jane Harvey challenges smokers who drop their cigarette butts and cleans up a pile of kebab waste on a Friday night and presents it to the shop's manager.

Week In Week Out: Taking on the Litter Louts, BBC1 Wales, Tuesday 7 June, 2235 BST.

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