Recently, walking down Westgate in Mansfield, I was appalled when three youths walked out of a famous hamburger emporium and to drop their polystyrene cartons and paper napkins to the pavement.
As there was a litter bin only a few feet away, I was propelled into OMBB mode (Old Man Busy Body). I picked all their rubbish up, handed it to them, and pointed to the bin. I then received an expletive-laden insult laced with a threat of violence.
The rubbish went back on the pavement, I picked it up, binned it, and not being keen on a visit to A&E, scarpered. Later that day, some idiot driver threw a can from his car widow. Once again, this interfering old bloke picked it up.
What makes so many Mansfield people into litterbugs? It would be easy to apportion blame to an ill-educated section of youth, whose appreciation of their environment remains as yet undeveloped. But that would be unfair, because uncaring selfishness seems to know no age barrier.
I live in a quiet cul-de-sac. The wind from Chesterfield Road, especially at weekends, deposits all manner of crisp packets, chocolate wrappers, chip trays, pizza boxes etc., at the bottom of our street.
In fact 30 per cent of the stuff in our blue bin isn’t from our house at all. Then there are the people who believe that, as the ‘Englishman’s home is his castle’, it’s OK to pile up your front garden with all your DIY waste, old TVs, even furniture, and leave it there forever.
The nocturnal litterbugs have their own special time; Friday and Saturday nights. A few pints of lager means a kebab, a tray of chips, a boxed pizza, the ubiquitous burger, and to keep the merriment in motion, the odd can or bottle to swig on your stagger home from the town’s nightspots. Walk along Chesterfield Road South on a Sunday morning and you’d think you were in New Delhi’s famous rubbish tip. Half-empty Budweiser bottles, cans, scattered salad, it’s all fine for the rat population but they don’t pay Council Tax.
Helen Bingham, Communications Manager for the Keep Britain Tidy group, tells us that we dump a staggering 30 million(!) tons of litter each year on our streets, costing £1 billion to clear up.
People seem to ignore the criminality of littering, which has fines from £75 to £2,000. Why? As if fast food litter isn’t bad enough, Mansfield District Council spends many thousands of pounds clearing up the work of litter’s Godfathers - the Fly Tippers. We live in a beautiful county, yet one wonders at the mind-set of people who can load their old mattress, fridge, and bags of rubbish onto a truck and drop it in a lay-by. But be warned: The maximum penalties for fly-tipping are a £50,000 fine and/or twelve months’ imprisonment.
In Braintree, Essex, the local authority set out to make their town the cleanest in the UK.
They seem to have achieved this. Let’s see if the only way isn’t Essex - with a bit of thought and effort Mansfield could be a lot cleaner. Let’s take more pride in our town.