Crossing the Line – Government Targets Urban Blight

07:55 Monday 11th June 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY GALL: People who turn their gardens into rubbish dumps could be given on the spot fines of £100. It’s a Government proposal which would apply to privately owned homes in the city as well as social housing. Our reporter Samantha Appleby is in one part of Peterborough which suffers with some scruffy gardens.
SAM APPLEBY: I’m standing outside a house in the centre of Peterborough this morning, and it’s quite a sight to behold.It’s certainly the business of everybody else that lives on this street, because there’s a mattress out here, there’s a number of bed frames, and lots of rubbish, bin bags, all sorts. And it really does spoil what would be quite a lovely street. What we’re talking about here Andy is plans that the Home Secretary Theresa May announced last month. She wants to completely overhaul the ASBO system. She wants to scrap ASBOs, and bring in something called Community Protection Notices instead. And one thing that people will be given a Community Protection Notice for is having large amounts of rubbish in their gardens. And the fine will also apply to people who leave things like old sofas and fridges, and even if you’ve got a mountain of pizza boxes in your garden as well, you’ll be getting a fine. So, some people support them, some people don’t. But one person who does is the local councillor for this area, in Park ward, John Peach. John, you’re very keen to introduce these plans.
JOHN PEACH: Yes. I think the Conservative-led Government’s plans to at least consult, and possibly introduce these orders, would be a good thing. We do suffer , not only in Park ward but many parts of Peterborough, with people dumping rubbish in their front gardens, fridges, sofas, beds etcetera etcetera. And we really want to keep Peterborough up, and make it a better place to live. And these things in people’s front gardens do look very unsightly, and tend to bring the area down.
SAM APPLEBY: Well I spoke to a number of people recently through my job that I know would be very concerned about these. A lady that lives in the Millfield area who’s house backs on to an alleyway is constantly clearing bin bags full of beer cans and bottles away. It’s not her rubbish. Somebody’s putting it in her garden. You’ve also got farmers in the area who suffer incredibly with fly-tippers. Would people be fined for rubbish that other people dump in their garden?
JOHN PEACH: Well it’s always difficult, but I understand, on the press release that the Government have given out to consult on this, they say that the law will be worded to protect homeowners from over-zealous council officials. So I think that in that particular case, we would wish to be reasonable, and come to some other solution. But as you can see, it really does look a mess, and really something should be done. Not every area of Peterborough is like this, but there are quite a few. And in areas where the house is owned by the householder, they’ve got to be made and feel responsible for keeping their garden tidy. And where it’s owned by a landlord, it’s really the landlord’s duty to make sure his property and his tenants keep the area tidy.
SAM APPLEBY: The problem of fly-tipping and scruffy gardens etcetera does seem to ahve increased. Now some people have said that coincides with the removal of the free collection. There used to be this yearly free collection. Do you think that the bulky waste policy would be reversed, and that there would be this free collection again?
JOHN PEACH: Well I don’t know so much that it’s that. By arrangement the Council is able to take this stuff away, and particularly there’s no charge if it’s dumped on what’s termed public realm, pavement areas, like some of it is here. I don’t believe the Council has actually had an increase in fly-tipping since the charge was introduced. But it’s certainly worth looking at and considering.
SAM APPLEBY: Well hopefully that wouldn’t lead to an increase in fly-tipping if there hasn’t been one already. Do you think that would be possible?
JOHN PEACH: Well I just feel that anything, legislation or persuasion or whatever, that can be done to try and get people not to leave stuff in their front gardens that looks unsightly .. leave the area reasonably clean. We’re not wishing everybody to have a Chelsea Flower Show front garden. But just to keep it reasonably clean, so that when people go through the area, they say, well this is quite a nice area. People look after their own houses, their own front gardens. We would like to live here, rather than moving out.