Shock cost of A14 litter revealed

THE COST to council tax payers of clearing litter from Suffolk's busiest road has been revealed - at £1,356 for every kilometre.With the A14 covering nearly 100 kilometres as it snakes through the county, the total annual cost exceeds £130,000 each year.

By David Green

THE COST to council tax payers of clearing litter from Suffolk's busiest road has been revealed - at £1,356 for every kilometre.

With the A14 covering nearly 100 kilometres as it snakes through the county, the total annual cost exceeds £130,000 each year.

It was disclosed yesterday on the eve of Spring Clean Suffolk, a week-long, anti-litter initiative being backed by the East Anglian Daily Times.

Now there are moves to bring in covert CCTV to try to catch the “serial” dumpers in the road's lay-bys and other “grot spots”.

Clearing litter from the A14 - the link between the Midlands and Felixstowe Port - is a dangerous occupation and contractors have to close lanes as a safety precaution while cleaning up the central reservation.

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But even before work on a stretch is completed, the litter from passing motorists has started to build up again.

And it is literally a waste of money - because without the litter problem the cash could be spent on boosting other local authority services.

The news comes as Spring Clean Suffolk, a week-long initiative being co-ordinated by the Suffolk Agricultural Association, is set to get underway.

Volunteers will be out and about in the county picking up litter and recycling as much as possible.

The cost of clearing litter from the A14 is borne by the local authorities whose districts are crossed by the road and assessed according to the length of carriageway involved.

Most councils along the route are members of the A14 partnership but Suffolk Coastal District Council uses its own staff - recently boosted by two - to clean up its own section of the road.

“The A14 is the lifeblood of Suffolk but, in terms of clearing up little, it is an extremely costly and dangerous road,” said Glynis Wood, Streetcare team leader for Ipswich Borough Council.

“The current cost for each kilometre cleared by contractors is £1,356. Each shift clears between 40 and 60 large black bags, each mounting to about 25 kilograms in weight, and no sooner is it cleared, more rubbish and litter appears.”

Traffic delays were sometimes caused by the closure of lanes to protect litter-picking teams, she added.

“The message to motorists is that if you do not throw your litter out of the window we won't have to disrupt your journey,” Ms Wood said.

Contractors routinely had to deal with unpleasant litter such as toilet waste and even plastic bags and bottles containing semen, she disclosed.

Ms Wood also said that it was likely that covert CCTV cameras would be brought in later this year to try to catch “serial dumpers” in the lay-bys of the A14 and other Suffolk roads.

A spokesman for the AA said that throwing litter from a car was “anti-social and particularly dangerous.”

He added: “The message does have to be drilled home because it is obviously not nice and costs a lot of money to clean up. The key is better publicity so that the message gets across.

“The problem is that it's hard to enforce because you can't have police patrolling the whole of the A14 as that would be inefficient. However, it is dangerous and you can risk causing an accident.”

A spokesman for the Freight Transport Association added: “The Highway Code makes it quite clear that litter must not be thrown from moving vehicles.

“In fact, there is a proposal in the new draft of the code for that to be strengthened so drivers can be prosecuted.

“Litter is a menace and drivers should dispose of it in a tidy and lawful way.”

The comments come as Ipswich Borough Council has designed a litter bag for motorists.

The aim is to persuade them to put their litter in the bag until it can be disposed of properly instead of being thrown out of the window of their vehicle.

The bag - made of paper not plastic so it will rot down if dumped by irresponsible motorists - is due to be launched next week by the John Grose dealership at Ransomes Europark.

The council hopes it will encourage the occupants of vehicles to take their food packaging and other waste home or put it in a bin.

It is keen to hear from other car dealerships or haulage firms willing to place bags in vehicles. Individuals can also get hold of supplies of the bag by telephoning 01473 433000.

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