Mobile phone apps are not the answer to litter woe

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How well-kept our surroundings are can make a huge difference to how much pride we take in the areas in which we live.

Litter-strewn streets can leave people feeling they might as well not bother taking pride – and can make the problem worse.

That is why, as we report today, Havant Borough Council is right to express concern at figures which showed it failed to hit its own targets for street cleanliness for a three-month period.

And it should be praised for inspecting randomly-picked streets as it looks to keep its standard up – a process which seems to have triggered the alarm in this instance.

To some this might seem like petty officialdom, a box-checking exercise designed to keep some town hall official in a job.

But it makes a difference – for where there is pride in an area, there is a willingness in the people who live and work there to improve it and invest in it.

Extra litter patrols and fines for the worst offenders would seem perfectly reasonable ways to keep on top of the problem.

And well-publicised council hotlines for members of the public to use to give information about fly-tippers have also proved useful.

But we’re less convinced about the idea that a smartphone app for people to report problems is a constructive way to spend council money.

Mobile smartphones have transformed the way many people live – and the mantra ‘there’s an app for that’ has passed into public consciousness.

But this idea seems to be a case of the council jumping on an idea because it’s modern, rather than because it would be genuinely useful. Apps cost money to develop, and to keep running.

And it’s hard to believe that anyone but the most ardent anti-litter campaigner would keep a council program on their phone just on the off-chance that they spotted rubbish worth reporting.

The idea is at its early stages at the moment and that’s where it should stay – for in these cash-strapped times, the money involved would be far better spent elsewhere.