Plans to tackle litter and flytipping after it emerged it costs council £4m a year in Wigan

Littering and fly-tipping costs the council £4m a year – which is why plans to tackle this problem have been given the green light. Cabinet members in Wigan approved the litter strategy at a council meeting.

A zero-tolerance approach to environmental crime through enforcement action has been promised by council bosses who pushed through the plan at a cabinet meeting.

This "huge societal problem” was flagged in a survey taken by residents, businesses and communities who demanded a litter-free borough.

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In the past year, the council’s environment team have issued 54 penalty notices, 33 community protection notices and got five successful prosecutions in court, all in relation to littering and fly-tipping, the Confident Places Scrutiny Committee was told last month.

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Coun Paul Prescott, cabinet portfolio holder for environment, said: “We are proud of our borough’s thriving greenspaces and bustling district centres, but the message is that we all have a role to play when it comes to being responsible for keeping litter and fly-tipping off our streets.

“We will be launching a supporting campaign in the new year to catch people’s imaginations and hopefully engage our communities in this really important work to keep our borough tidy.”

Improved “binfrastructure”, enhanced monitoring, tougher enforcement, stronger partnerships with businesses, community action through volunteering, guidance to schools and colleges and adult education are the seven key objectives of the Litter Prevention Strategy for Wigan Borough.

A 2021 Keep Britain Tidy survey for Wigan Borough found that cigarette butts and smoking-related litter was the most common form.

This was followed by sweet and crisps packets, plastic bottles, and takeaway food packaging. Of the £4m spent by council each year, £800,000 of that is dealing with fly tippers, Wigan Town Hall heard previously.

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Included in the action plan is an emphasis on waste and recycling education to help the borough’s communities and businesses tackle the issues in partnership with the council.

This is alongside a zero-tolerance approach to environmental crime through enforcement action.

The strategy sets out seven objectives:

Educating adults about the impacts of litter and fly-tipping

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Working with schools and colleges

Supporting our communities and volunteers

Being tougher on those who continue to litter and fly-tip

Working closely with local businesses

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Making sure we have the right bins, in the right place and they’re emptied at the right time, with over 2,000 bins maintained by the council

Looking at our data so we know where the problems are and what is working to tackle them

Coun Prescott added: “As it says in the strategy; ‘every pound of taxpayer’s money spent clearing up after people who fly-tip in our borough, drop litter on our streets or fail to clean up after their pets, is a pound that could be invested in our schools, enhancing our local environment or caring for people in need. But this is not just about the money being spent on clearing our streets and public spaces. Littering and fly-tipping is a real blight on our environment.

“It is unsightly, can cause problems for local wildlife, and can cause major damage to our local waterways and animals that depend on them.”