READER LETTER: ‘A14 and A12 resemble rubbish tips’
PUBLISHED: 09:24 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:24 18 August 2020
John West, of Saxmundham, writes about the “disgrace” of littering on the A14 and A12.
Sir, – The state of our roads in Suffolk is a disgrace. The grass verges bordering roads such as the A14 and A12 resemble rubbish tips and the situation is getting worse. Bottles, cans, plastic bags, rubber gloves and face masks are just some of the items discarded by these roads. Highways England – a government company - is responsible for keeping motorways and A-roads free of litter but is failing miserably. Under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act, they are supposed to make sure that all our major roads are kept litter-free. So why are they not doing their job despite being funded billions by the British taxpayer?
The money is clearly there as in March, the government announced a £27.3billion package to maintain and upgrade the 4,500-mile strategic road network in England over five years. This included £6bn for operations and maintenance, which is supposed to include litter clearance.
Local authorities also need to do more and the people responsible for keeping our county clean must be held to account if they fail in their duty. Report litter to the relevant Waste Management Officer for your area. The person responsible for my area - East Suffolk - is Gemma Holt and can be contacted at East Suffolk Council.
Littering has far-reaching consequences. The cost to the environment is colossal. The RSPCA say that they get a call about animals injured by litter every two hours. Litter also gets blown into our waterways and eventually ends up in the sea where it causes even more damage. And vast amounts of litter bordering our roads is hardly a great way to welcome those coming into the county.
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Organisations like Keep Britain Tidy and the Don’t Be a Tosser campaign do their bit but the government and local authorities need to do much, much more.
The current laws are way too soft and seem to be rarely enforced. For instance, how many people were prosecuted in Suffolk for dropping litter on our roads in the last year? How many were prosecuted for fly-tipping? I doubt very many.
And why is that some people think that it is acceptable to throw litter from their vehicles? And it is not just the general public throwing litter around. I have seen council workers chuck rubbish on the floor. And how many of us have seen Suffolk Highways staff happily cutting grass verges without bothering to remove the litter beforehand? Even the police are not blameless. I have more than once seen police accident tape left hanging on trees and bushes long after the vehicle has been removed.
I find it hard to believe that our politicians have not noticed the state of our roads but few seem bothered. I even wrote to my local MP, Therese Coffey, about this issue but did not receive a reply.
So what must be done? Children in our schools need to be made aware of the impact littering has on the environment. Highways England and local authorities need to be held to account for their failure to keep our roads clear. Stricter laws need to be brought in. These should include higher fines and even imprisonment for repeat offenders. Fast food outlets should be made responsible for the litter adjoining their businesses. Finally, I would also like to see those caught made to spend a month or more picking up litter as part of their community service.
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