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BRISTOL: Downs bins removal debate

BRISTOL: Downs bins removal debate

Source: Amanda Cameron.

Official guardians of The Downs have rejected calls for a “big bang” removal of rubbish bins from the public common to tackle a growing problem with litter.

Members of the Downs Committee, whose job it is to manage Clifton Down and Durdham Down in Bristol, have instead agreed to take steps to persuade people to take their litter home with them, with a view to reducing bin numbers in future.

The statutory committee of city councillors and Merchant Venturers resolved yesterday (September 20) to ask Bristol City Council to send its litter wardens to The Downs to issue on-the-spot fines.

It also plans to ask the council to run a city-wide public education campaign about litter in parks.

There are about 36 bins on The Downs. Half a dozen are permanent and the rest are extra oil drum bins in place temporarily over summer.

Removing the rubbish bins from The Downs was first mooted in July by a member of the council’s parks team who said they could not cope with the “mountains” of rubbish being left beside overflowing bins.

Downs supervisor Ben Skuse repeated the suggestion on Monday (September 20), saying he would like to see the bins removed because it would mean “people are thinking about their waste, minimising it, taking it away, disposing of it correctly”.

“Putting it in our bins is not disposing of it correctly, because that is not being recycled effectively, to my knowledge,” he said.

Mr Skuse said the bins could be removed “all at once” or gradually over a number of years.

The proposal divided members of the committee, with Merchant Venturers Peter Rilett and David Powell in favour of a “short sharp” shock approach.

Mr Powell said: “I think we should just do it. If you’ve got a bin, people think someone’s going to come and collect the rubbish.

“If there are no bins, it does encourage people to think ‘well I’ve got to do something else with rubbish’. To a certain extent, what have we got to lose?”

Councillors, on the other hand, said although they liked the idea of removing all the rubbish bins, they did not think it would work in reality.

Cllr Jos Clark said the amount of rubbish on The Downs was an “absolute disgrace” and she was not “particularly optimistic” that the public would take it home with them if the bins were removed.

“It could be chaos up there and just vile,” she said.

Cllr Geoff Gollop, who represents Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze, said local residents would suffer if the bins were removed.

“I don’t know how we would cope with the volume of rubbish that would be left behind, so I would be very concerned if we went down that route,” he said.

Cllr Carla Denyer said she did not think the complete removal of bins was “realistic” or “reasonable” given that a cafe and three ice-cream vans operate on The Downs.

“If we are allowing people to buy things with packaging then it’s quite reasonable for them to expect there to be a litter bin for them to dispose of the things they bought on The Downs,” she said.

Mr Skuse said if mini-supermarkets in Clifton, Henleaze and Blackboy Hill stopped selling disposable barbecues it would “drastically reduce” the amount of rubbish on The Downs.

“If you don’t buy the tray barbecue, you don’t then buy the burgers, or the food and alcohol associated with it,” he said.

The meeting heard that volunteer group Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge (FODAG) had already approached the local supermarkets, and two had put up notices asking people to be considerate in their use and disposal of portable barbecues.

Cllr Paula O’Rourke proposed a council-run education campaign to encourage people to take their litter home with them “with ultimately the aim of taking the bins away”.

Cllr Paul Goggin suggested the threat of being fined by a litter warden might be persuasive.

Cllr Steve Smith, who chairs the Downs Committee as part of his role as Lord Mayor of Bristol, said: “I’m not hearing wide support for a sort of big bang removal of bins but I’ll see if we can get some support for enforcement there and comms city-wide.”

FODAG chair Robert Westlake, who said he managed Ashton Court for several years, said the park still had “a big litter problem” despite having no bins.

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