Litter problem is getting worse in Devizes, says pensioner

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Pensioner Jeremy Cross on litter patrol near the canal in Devizes Pensioner Jeremy Cross on litter patrol near the canal in Devizes

Pensioner Jeremy Cross, who makes it his daily chore to clear up litter in the streets around his home in Devizes, says the amount of rubbish thrown away by passers-by is getting worse.

Mr Cross, who used to head a small taskforce of townspeople but now combs on his own the area in Victoria Road where he lives, has noticed a fivefold increase in littering and says Wiltshire Council is not taking the problem seriously.

He said: “Cigarette-associated litter is the most frequent but in Devizes street cleaners have told me that the amount of dog faeces has increased considerably and that plastic containers of takeaway food from kebab shops and others, along with plastic bottles, are a growing problem.

“It would seem from my observation that more and more people tend to eat on the streets, which is an illustration of how problems have worsened.

“I clean Victoria Road regularly, and Sedgefield Gardens and the canal towpath behind my house. I do this on a daily basis and always have to pick up litter, particularly from those places that look untidy.

“There are definite litter paths from housing estates in the town. Wiltshire Council can issue on-the-spot fines of between £50 and £80 and, if not paid, magistrates can fine up to £2,500.

“My obvious conclusion is that education and fining both have to be put in place. I don’t like suggesting that we should fine people but I see no other solution.”

Mr Cross has heard that, while littering as a problem is growing nationally, the number of street cleaners employed by Wiltshire Council has halved. Balfour Beatty holds the contract for street cleaning in Devizes.

Mr Cross said: “I am told that there are three who work in shifts with a barrow and two more who empty the bins, plus one other who operates a mechanical sweeper. From what I have been told, this represents a considerable reduction in personnel over the last ten years.”

Coun Sue Evans, Wiltshire councillor for Devizes, said she had arranged to walk around the area with Mr Cross and a council officer to see the size of the problem but it had to be postponed as the officer was heavily involved in flood control.

Coun Evans said: “I feel for Mr Cross and I do know the problem. I don’t know the answer. Certainly more enforcement is needed but we also need to educate people that littering is a very anti-social thing to do.”

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