The importance of access to greenspace and parks have been and continue to be more important than ever during the coronavirus outbreak. The Parks Trust have been working hard to keep the parks safe and protect the beautiful greenspaces of Milton Keynes so that everyone can enjoy them safely and reap the benefits to their physical and mental wellbeing. However, sadly we are seeing a huge increase in those dropping and leaving their litter in the parks, putting additional financial strain on the organisation to try and keep on top of all the additional waste as well as depleting the resources of our operations team and The Parks Trust’s Rangers.
This week alone, our rangers and contractors have collected over 800 bags of litter from across our parks. In recent weeks, especially due to the nice weather, we are finding greater numbers of people ‘considerately littering’ by leaving their rubbish next to or on top of overflowing bins. What we want to stress is – this is still littering!
We love to see people enjoying the parks and being able to make use of our outdoor spaces to meet others at a social distance but please take home the litter you bring into our parks. We do have some strategically placed bins located around our parks, and our team are working hard to make sure these are frequently emptied but if the bin is full please don’t leave your bag next to the bin, take it home.
Leaving rubbish next to or trying to force rubbish into an already overflowing bin seriously affects wildlife. Discarded rubbish blows around our parks and gets into the path of wildlife causing a whole host of issues. Small mammals, like shrews, often climb inside discarded bottles where they become trapped and die, hedgehogs (a declining species in the UK) are often victims of litter. They become caught up in items like plastic multi-pack rings and plastic carrier bags, often with fatal results. It is not just land mammals that are suffering, waterfowl such as swans and geese can swallow plastic which accumulates in their stomach and eventually kills them. So please act responsibly and take your litter home.
The cost of removing litter from our parks is enormous, it already costs us £350,000 a year, so adding more bins is simply not the answer and particularly during this time when we are taking a significant hit to our income. Research conducted by Keep Britain Tidy indicates that 62% of people do not litter. These people would normally take their litter home with them, but upon seeing bins, will use them. So, installing more bins into our parks is not affordable for the charity and clearing the excess litter at present, is reducing funds that could otherwise be spent on maintaining and improving the parks for the benefit of all.
We would like to remind park users that are dropping litter or acting inappropriately in the parks that we do have mobile CCTV in operation. Ten investigations were carried out last month alone, with the appropriate fixed penalties handed out. The penalties are set at £80 (for littering and dog fouling) and £400 for dumping rubbish. This is not a money-making exercise as the fines go to the Local Authority Enforcement Team, who once receiving the evidence undertake investigation, which in turn has a cost.
There are still many people that are not aware that The Parks Trust is a self-financing charity and does not receive any funding from local or central government. The cost of clearing up litter falls directly to us and doesn’t hit tax payers. As a charity we want to educate people about acting responsibly regarding the environment, we also want to make sure that our future is secure so that we can continue to manage and maintain these amazing green spaces. Please help support us by taking your litter home, regardless of whether there is a bin in place or not.