Poll: Conservative peer Lord Marlesford launches bid to target A12 and A14 litter louts

Roadside Rubbish

Roadside Rubbish

COUNTRYSIDE campaigners and a Suffolk peer are joining forces to close a legal loophole they say hinders the prosecution of drivers who litter the likes of the A14 and A12.

Lord Marlesford is stepping up the fight against litter louts

Lord Marlesford is stepping up the fight against litter louts - Credit: Archant

Lord Marlesford will today launch a private members bill in a bid to end the scourge of roadside rubbish which costs local authorities in Suffolk hundreds of thousands of pounds to clear up – but can often result in no action against the motorists responsible.

Last night, business chiefs in the county welcomed the move – saying the state of roads is often the first impression visitors get.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Tourism is a key pillar of the economy and businesses will support any legislation that would increase individuals and families visiting our county.

“It is important that on major routes into Suffolk visitors get the right impression. Rubbish and litter that is left on the roads, especially on the A14, does need to be addressed.

“If Lord Marlesford’s bill can deal with this issue then tourism businesses large and small will welcome it.”

Last year the EADT revealed the cost of clearing litter from the A12 and A14 in Suffolk was more than £700,000 over four years.

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Conservative peer Lord Marlesford, said he hoped his bill - if passed - would act as a suitable deterrent.

“Nothing degrades a road more than litter,” he said. “The streets in England are some of the dirtiest in Europe. Visitors all say how much dirtier we are. It is not good for our image.

“In my own village of Marlesford members of the parish council, of which I’m chairman, have regular litter picks. I frequently see cans, fast food boxes and packets on the side of the road. It’s extremely annoying but can be easily dealt with.

“Under existing law it is a criminal offence to throw litter from a vehicle, with councils able to fine people up to £80 if they can be shown to have discarded rubbish from a car.

“In practice however, authorities can find it difficult to use this power as it is often impossible to prove who within the car was responsible.

“Under my bill the registered owner of the car would pay the penalty - similar to a parking fine or seat belt offences.

“If the owner of the vehicle was not the litterer, they will be able to nominate the guilty individual to pay the fine.”

The bill, which after today will have to go for a second reading, would also require local authorities that spend more than £800m on clearing litter to disclose details of the contractors used and the areas targeted to ensure people were satisfied a proper job was being done.

Samantha Harding, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “When people get away with littering we all end up footing the bill. In a perfect world people wouldn’t toss litter from their cars, but the fact is they do. This is not just about bringing in a new penalty, it’s about achieving behavioural change - and that’s what this bill delivers.”

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Borough Council said they spent around £1m a year on street cleaning - including a small section of the A14. She said while waste enforcement officers made every effort to follow up cases from cars it sometimes proved difficult.

Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury spend £50,000 alone cleaning the A14, with Nigel Roman, chairman of the authorities’ Joint Waste Partnership, saying any help to target offenders was welcome.

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney spend almost £1.75m between them, although this is not all spent on littering from vehicles. A spokesman said they could already take action against the registered owner of a vehicle responsible for fly tipping offences if an individual failed to own up.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk were unable to provide figures before the time of going to press.

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