Leeds City Council is running a new campaign over the summer months as a result of the increases in littering and anti-social behaviour that have been seen since lockdown eased.
The campaign, developed by Keep Britain Tidy, comes after a new survey, carried out by the environmental charity, shows that more than half of the country’s parks have had to pull in extra resources to deal with the issues, including litter and anti-social behaviour since lockdown was eased.
Of those, 81% had had to spend more on clearing up litter, 79% on bin emptying and 72% on maintaining public order or enforcing lockdown rules. Councils also reported clearing up, on average, 57 tonnes of additional waste from their park.
The new campaign, under the umbrella of ‘Love Parks’, uses behavioural insights that show people respond better to messages from individuals and features images of real parks staff and park users with quotes that talk about how anti-social behaviour makes them feel, with each one urging people to ‘be kind’ to their park.
Leeds City Council executive member for environment and active lifestyle Councillor Mohammed Rafique said:
“Parks and green spaces have always played an important role in keeping people in Leeds healthy, active, and relaxed as well as being beautiful spaces to enjoy. They have proved even more invaluable during these unprecedented times, ensuring the people of Leeds have been able to enjoy the outdoors safely during the lockdown.
“Unfortunately, as restrictions have been lifted and people have been going outside more, our parks and green spaces suffered from anti-social behaviour from some members of the public and an increase amount of litter. This is unacceptable and we will not tolerate a small minority spoiling our wonderful parks and green spaces for others.
“I very much welcome Keep Britain Tidy’s new campaign which will start in Roundhay Park and will aim to give park users a pertinent reminder and a clear call to action to behave appropriately, responsibly and with consideration for others.”
Richard McIlwain, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said:
“The UK was the birthplace of the public park and their value was recognised by many people during lockdown, as a haven of greenspace for exercise and relaxation.
“But, as lockdown measures have eased, we’ve seen a significant minority of people abuse these treasured spaces, with shocking scenes of anti-social behaviour, leading to littering, people using parks as toilets and abuse of parks staff.
“This campaign, which has been made available to every local authority in the country and which is based on behavioural science, will act as an effective nudge to actively encourage people to treat our beautiful parks – and the amazing staff who work in them – with respect this summer.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:
“As the coronavirus lockdown has eased, the amount of litter being left in parks, green spaces and beaches across the country is unacceptable. I wholeheartedly support Keep Britain Tidy’s new campaign to tackle this issue.
There is simply no excuse to leave rubbish behind, and councils can issue fines of up to
£150 to those caught doing it. If you are unable to dispose of litter, then please take it home so you don’t destroy what you have come to enjoy.”