Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hitchin cigarette butt litter bins pose Brexit question

Hitchin ballot bin Image copyright Simon Maddison
Image caption The ballot bin, at the entrance Churchgate Shopping Centre, poses the question "Does the prospect of a hard Brexit worry you?"

Smokers are being asked to express their views on Brexit by dropping cigarette butts into a specially adapted bin with "yes" or "no" slots.

An anti-litter group in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, hopes to encourage smokers not discard butts on streets.

The bin, created by Clean Up Hitchin, asks "Does the prospect of a hard Brexit worry you?"

It has replaced a question about US President Trump, which was removed after complaints.

Clean Up Hitchin organiser Rachel Campbell came up with the "talking point" bin, which is at the entrance to Churchgate in the centre of the Hertfordshire town.

"The idea is to make the bins visible, fun, part of the culture and encourage people to use them, as opposed to dropping litter," said Ms Campbell.

The number of butts in each section is visible through the front of the bin.

Image copyright Clean up Hitchin
Image caption This question relating to President Trump's hair was taken down after complaints

The bin previously posed the question "Trump's hair: Fake or Real?", but it was changed after a complaint to the local council that it was too political and an "insult" to the US president.

The group said Hitchin was "no worse" than any other town when it comes to litter, but it found cigarette butts to be the most thrown away item, often tossed into pavement drains.

"A lot of people don't see a cigarette butt as a waste item, but it is full of micro-plastics and chemicals which leach poisons if they get into waterways," said Ms Campbell.

Image copyright Clean Up Hitchin
Image caption Clean Up Hitchin has created a range of bins including a grass-covered one featuring a mini skatepark for the town's Skate Jam

The community group is funded by North Hertfordshire District Council, which also disposes of the waste collected.

The Brexit question will remain in place on the bin until 12 March, when Parliament is due to have its next say on the Prime Minister's options for the UK on leaving the EU.

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