Litter levels should be a matter of public record – Mayor

Ken Livingstone has written to David Miliband calling on the Environment secretary to force London's boroughs to come clean on their levels of litter and frequency of street cleaning.

The Mayor argued that while their was a voluntary scheme in place asking boroughs to publish information on the number of street litter fines, fly posters, dog fouling incidents and graffiti, the deadline had passed in February and barely a third of councils had provided the figures.

“This has been an ongoing debate since the mayoral system was established,” said Mr Livingstone.

“I suggest it would be useful if we had a central database of information so we could look at those areas that are under-performing and introduce best practice.”

He stressed that this was not a power grab and he was not about pushing for any further influence over the waste policy of the boroughs.

Rather, it appears to be about naming and shaming poor performers in the hopes they will redouble their efforts to get their houses in order.

“Some parts of London are doing very well, others are frankly quite squalid but until we’ve got a common set of data we’re not in a position to tackle the problem,” he told edie.

“I just think we should be getting the information in the public domain so we know who’s under performing and who isn’t.”

A league table would, argued the Mayor, arm voters with better information on a subject which time and again is raised as an area of major public concern and would also allow central Government and the Audit Commission to better assess where action might be needed.

He said that once the relatively new neighbourhood policing schemes had settled down, officers would be able to spend more time tackling this kind of nuisance.

“They’re not just looking for muggers and footpads, they are looking for people who are dropping litter and stopping them when they do,” he said.

“One of the key issues of concern to Londoners is the problem of litter and the street environment. The boroughs need to provide information on the street environment so we can evaluate how we can improve on the problems of litter, flytipping and graffiti across the capital,” said the Mayor.

“Politicians from all parties are now rightly talking about climate change but all aspects of the environment are important and have to be taken seriously. I am calling on the Secretary of State to intervene and make the information scheme compulsory, as the boroughs have failed to deliver the information voluntarily.”

“The government has recently said there should not be a single waste disposal authority for London to deal with recycling, it should instead be a voluntary forum, but as the lack of information on litter and street cleansing shows, we need Londonwide co-ordination of these issues.”

Sam Bond

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