Littering is a menace – on public or private land

COMMENT: Our public services can only take so much

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The traders of North End have our sympathy – as do any businesses who are trying to make the best of their area in what remain challenging economic times.

As we report today, while measures to improve the area have been mooted by politicians – sensible ideas which include changes to parking and relaxing rules about what can be put out outside shops – there is still a serious concern about how litter can make the area appear run-down and unloved.

It’s a serious point, too. Shopping centres like North End – although obviously there are many similar high streets across the area, from Waterlooville to Gosport – have been assailed by out-of-town supermarkets and new developments for decades now. They do need a helping hand, not just from national and local government in terms of legislation, but they need to be able to stand proud and beat the drum for shopping locally.

That’s why we launched our Shop Local campaign, to promote and reinforce all the advantages of knowledgeable and friendly service that the smaller high streets can often bring.

And that’s why we’d urge the authorities to look at the problem of litter.

This isn’t about targeting a particular business or demanding draconian penalties, it’s about highlighting the legal ‘gap’ into which private land falls. As it’s private, the local council has fewer responsibilities and duties to watch over it. This isn’t a criticism – it’s a fact.

In cases such as today, though, we’d argue that it should be treated as public land. The benefits to the public and to traders from a tidier, litter-free appearance to the area are obvious, and there are few people who would argue in favour of refuse being allowed to fester.

If there is a persistent problem, and if the perpetrators do not respond to advice, then let us see anti-fly-tipping legislation being enacted against the offenders. As we say, the main aim is to give our high streets the help they can get. It’s correctly a criminal offence for an individual to drop litter – it should be the same for a business too.

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