Hopes wild flower verge will make roadside litter louts 'think twice'
PUBLISHED: 14:53 21 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:06 21 February 2019
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The scheme is part of Braintree District Council's latest push to reduce the amount of rubbish thrown from car windows.
The so-called Road Beautification Initiative, which will be run as a pilot with anti-littering charity Keep Britain Tidy, will see wild flower seeds sown along the roadside of the busy A131 section of the Braintree bypass and the verge maintained to encourage wild flower growth.
“If a roadside verge is full of nice flowers rather than litter, people might think twice about throwing their litter out there,” said councillor Wendy Schmitt, the council’s cabinet member for Environment and Place, who is championing the project.
“We are prepared to try anything to stop the build up of litter and this scheme could have a double benefit of reducing litter and also helping bees and other insects.”
Ms Schmitt says the council has had a focus on litter since it launched its Green Heart of Essex campaign six years ago and actively encourages people to report littering.
In the past 12 months the authority has issued 78 fixed penalty notices for littering while earlier this month, the authority announced it had increased the fine for people caught throwing litter out of their vehicle from £75 to £100 in a bid to crackdown on the issue.
The council is also working in partnership with McDonalds and KFC to inform people of the consequences of littering by displaying banners at local drive through restaurants, and stickers on take-away packaging asking, “Can you afford to throw £100 away?”
It says car litter is one of the biggest problems in Braintree district in terms of keeping areas clean and tidy. Litter grot spots prone to large amounts of litter include the A131 and the A120 in and around Galley’s Corner near Braintree. The A131 is litter-picked every 6 – 10 weeks and the A120 stretch is deep street cleansed twice a year, involving manual litter-picks of verges, mechanical sweeping and washing, and traffic management and night-time working - each costing around £20,000 a time.
Ms Schmitt added: “ Our wardens can’t be everywhere, so if a member of the public sees someone throwing something out of the window, they can send in the details and we will send a fine in the post - if they have dashcam footage all the better.
“If they don’t pay the fine, we will take them to court and we have found the magistrates to be supportive. The highest fine has been £950 for someone who threw a cigarette out of the car window. They thought we were having a laugh, so he didn’t turn up to court.
“This is a passion of mine - we have a dreadful mind-set that littering doesn’t seem to matter. You go to other countries and don’t see so much by the road - its a bad problem in Britain.”