Dan Rogerson MP was praising councils in a ministerial foreword included in Keep Britain Tidy’s 12th annual Local Environmental Quality Survey of England – produced on behalf of Defra.

It shows that more places are now of an acceptable standard when it comes to cleanliness, despite tight budgets.

Rogerson said: “In the current climate the determined efforts and achievements of street cleansing teams should be applauded.”

The report covers 19,682 sites in 54 local authority areas. There are seven headline indicators, namely litter, detritus (the natural girt, sand and soil found on streets and pavements), graffiti, fly-posting, recent leaf and blossom fall, weed growth and staining, which are used to give an overall picture of how clean England is.

All headline indicators in 2012-13 improved or stayed the same, with fewer of the places surveyed falling below an acceptable cleanliness standard.

The indicators that have show the greatest improvement – detritus and staining (caused by things such as chewing gum and oil from vehicles] – are directly linked to street cleaning activity and suggest councils are finding ways to do more with less, Keep Britain Tidy said.

The improvement in these two indicators has been significant in 2012-13, with a year-on-year 13% increase in the number of sites meeting the required standard for detritus and 8% for staining.

Rogerson said the figures were encouraging: “After all local environmental quality is, by definition, a local issue which is best tackled locally. But government is taking target action – through measures such as the 5p charge on single use plastic carrier bags.”

However, not all the figures from the study were positive. It shows that litter from fast food and confectionery is getting worse, with both up 3% this year.

Fast food litter is a particular problem on rural and main roads, with 48% of rural roads and 46% of main roads affected. The organisation said that the most obvious explanation for this is people using ‘drive-thru’ restaurants and throwing the packaging from their vehicles.

The number of sites affected by confectionery packaging has risen by 3% to 68% and snack packaging is also now found on 3% more sites, rising to 23%.

Liz Gyekye

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