Representatives from organisations based in Balsall Heath met at a special emergency meeting recently as part of a new drive to tackle the antisocial act of littering. Complaints about the increase in the amount of litter that can be seen on the streets and in the parks of Balsall Heath have been steadily increasing in recent months. As a result, a call for action was made by Balsall Heath’s Neighbourhood Manager Pat Wing. “The message has always been clear, ‘don’t drop litter’. If you have something you need to bin, wait until you’re next to one or use your own bin at home. There are plenty of bins; it simply needs everyone to use them. This is just the beginning of a campaign that will bring all of the agencies together to tackle the problem.”
Litter has become such an issue for members of The Court and Cheddar Road Residents Association that their Chair Steven Blower, along with a group of the younger residents, have taken to collecting the litter to be found outside the local businesses in a bid to improve their local environment. “We wanted to make a point about how much nicer the area could look with just a bit of care. It’s not like there aren’t enough bins for people to use. We hope this has helped get a message across and shows how much young people care about where they live”.
For several years pupils from Nelson Mandela, Clifton and Tindal Primary Schools have been actively removing litter from their local parks and helping to spread the message that littering ruins the environment. At Tindal School, year six pupils have gone one step further to find out how parents promote the anti-littering message through conducting research on parents while they are waiting for school to finish. For many of the local schools the problems associated with litter can be seen to stem from the disposal of after school treats packaging.
Every day over 2.25million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK. The nation’s taxpayers have to pay around £858million a year to deal with over 30 million tonnes of litter. Of this, food packaging accounts for roughly 7 out of 10 items of litter with the majority of this coming from fast food products. The effect upon the local environment caused by litter has a far reaching impact. As well as acting as breeding grounds for bacteria, litter has the added bonus of attracting vermin like rats.
For many of the local businesses the effects caused by litter can mean the difference between success and failure. The ability to attract customers wishing to dine in many of the Balti Triangle’s restaurants or buy goods from the local fashion retailers may well depend upon how the area is perceived by visitors. For this reason alone litter can be seen to be bad for business. The sight of litter is often linked to one of deprivation and negative perceptions of safety which not only has an impact upon those who might visit, but also on those who live in Balsall Heath. For those businesses that have remodelled their interiors in recent years as a means of attracting new customers, it could simply come down to whether the litter outside deters the potential customers in the first place.
With reductions in staffing levels throughout the City Council becoming a common theme more and more of the services we once relied upon will become stretched and the speed at which services can be delivered will be affected. This has been recognised in many quarters and so the need for Balsall Heath to begin the ‘Stop the Drop’ campaign has already begun. In the coming months more steps to tackle the anti-social nature of littering in Balsall Heath will become commonplace.