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‘Don’t Be A Tosser’ Council Tells Residents in Poster War on Litter Culprits

Published on: 3 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 4 Jul, 2020

Despite polite requests and many reminders, the amount of littering is a growing problem in the borough. Now a strong GBC campaign is delivering a blunt message “Please don’t be a tosser” and telling people, “Take your litter home”.

This type of initiative seems to have originated in New Zealand and was adopted by Keep Britain Tidy, City of York Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council.
The GBC campaign is endorsed by Surrey Wildlife Trust and Surrey Hills AONB, both organisations adding their logos to litter posters as a mark of support.

Council leader Caroline Reeves said:” ‘Since restrictions began lifting, we have seen an astronomical rise in the amount of litter being thrown in our parks, countryside and streets.

“Littering is illegal, anti-social, has a negative effect on our environment and costs thousands of pounds to clear up. You can be fined up to £150 for dropping litter or up to £2,500 if it goes to court.

Cllr Caroline Reeves

“We completely understand how difficult the past few months have been for our residents losing their freedoms and for many very sadly their loved ones. Our vulnerable communities, in particular, have suffered immeasurably and continue to need our support.

“But when lockdown began easing and we could all go outdoors for as long as we wanted to, suddenly we found we had twice as much litter as an average week in the school holidays. It’s as if everyone has forgotten how to behave.

“We’ve asked politely so many times and put out so many statements and messages asking, ‘Please just take your litter home’ but nothing has worked.”

The environmental impact is damaging. Research in Keep Britain Tidy’s Journal of Local Environmental Quality showed millions of small mammals, mainly voles and shrews, were dying after being enticed into bottles and cans.

Sarah Jane Chimbwandira

Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, chief executive of the Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: “We have real concerns about the exponential increase in anti-social behaviour, littering and disregard for the countryside.

“In some places, it is the worst we have ever seen. It is particularly concerning when we are recognising the benefits of nature to our wellbeing, which is not possible when sites are full of litter.”

Rob Fairbanks, director of Surrey Hills AONB, said: ‘We have seen unprecedented numbers of visitors to the Surrey Hills area and there have been major problems dealing with litter, congestion, gates left open and BBQs. We ask all our visitors to please respect our countryside, its farmers and our local communities.”

In May, the council agreed an emergency £15 million budget, in addition to government funds, to meet the borough’s needs during the Covid-19 outbreak.

All essential services have been maintained and frontline staff have been overwhelmed with the wonderful support and gratitude shown to them by residents such as notes left for the waste collectors or kind words and thanks on social media.

Cllr Reeves continued: “We have been so proud of how most of our residents have played their part in Guildford’s response to the outbreak, staying at home to save lives and protect our NHS and now as we start to emerge, they are dutifully following the guidance and being sensible.

“Their community spirit and those who have volunteered to help others have been an inspiration. But there are those that aren’t and we need to shock them into seeing sense and simply get them to stop littering. We cannot spend more on clearing up after them.

“This weekend there’s further relaxing of the guidance with our pubs and restaurants opening and we are very concerned the litter problem will escalate even further.”

The posters which will go up around the borough in parks, green spaces and countryside sites, invite the reader to reflect on why they are throwing the rubbish and give three suggested reasons:

• I’m lazy
• I don’t care about this community
• I think other people should pay to clean up after me

Cllr Reeves added: ‘We will not put any of these posters near playgrounds of course and we apologise in advance for any offence caused by this strong message but we want to make an impact and get people to take their litter home with them.

“Help us to keep Guildford beautiful: love where you live.”

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test 4 Responses to ‘Don’t Be A Tosser’ Council Tells Residents in Poster War on Litter Culprits

  1. Wayne Smith Reply

    July 3, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Well done, GBC.

    I’d have removed the “please” from “please don’t be a tosser” as the intended audience clearly don’t understand manners but let’s hope the message gets across.

  2. Davella Short Reply

    July 3, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    I have also noticed the rise in litter especially around my area. Broken bottles, discarded crisp packets, empty cans, cardboard boxes, all sorts.

    I quite often pick up bits of glass where quite a lot of people walk their dogs.

  3. Jan Messinger Reply

    July 3, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    Delighted to hear there is going to be this initiative to tackle the long-running people’s disregard for where they live. If you have walked the roads alongside our beautiful commons as I have and seen takeaway wrappers, bottles and cans along with flytipping and now discarded PPE.

    I cannot understand why people throw everything out of their car windows. Leaving dog poo in plastic bags on the common when all they have to do is put it in their dustbin at home. I really do question why do people have such little pride in where they live.

    They must stop being selfish and take their rubbish home. Some of us were brought up with the slogan “Keep Britain Tidy”. What a shame people have forgotten.

  4. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 4, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    These posters are copied from other towns and cities around the UK.

    Something is better than nothing, but did the council officers check whether these posters actually had any effect on the problem?

    It seems despite knowing the litter problem in and around bins and that the collection by the six(?) teams isn’t keeping up the problem is not being solved. Maybe some contract collection.

    What about a bit of direct action as we have had before, from time to time. Get the Town Rangers’ and the ‘Wardens’ out, at least in the town centre, issuing spot-fines. The littering is, after all, a bit more obvious than dropping a fag end.

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