Rugby council to use 'behavioural science' in new attack on people littering - and even pooing - in our parks

Last year our town's parks officers faced an onslaught of selfish behaviour, including littering and pooing

Friday, 26th March 2021, 6:24 pm
Caldecott Park and, inset, Rugby council's campaign poster.

Rugby council plans to draw on 'behavioural science' in a new offensive against residents who dump litter in our borough's parks and open spaces.

Through lockdown many Rugbeians flocked to the town's parks and open spaces, enjoying fresh air and exercise.

But last June it was revealed that a selfish minority were ruining it for the rest, dropping ten tonnes of extra litter in our parks every day and, in some cases, even pooing in our parks.

Rugby council's parks teams worked exceptionally hard to keep our parks clean, and the council fought back with a campaign which included the installation of signs stating: 'don't be a tosser'.

This counter-attack was so successful that councils elsewhere in the country cited it as an example of how to go about deterring littering.

But now, as summer approaches and lockdown measures are set to be eased, Rugby council is expecting a second onslaught of lazy and selfish behaviour.

This year's offensive against litterbugs is set to include behaviour change measures, joining campaigns such as the Great British Spring Clean, new ways to report litter, and extra bin capacity placed in hot spots.

The measures will be discussed at the council's March 29 Cabinet meeting and, if passed, their implementation will be overseen by councillors on the litter and fly tipping working group.

Cllr Seb Lowe, leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “Over the last year we have seen use of our parks and open spaces increase dramatically, and it is pleasing to see these spaces being used and enjoyed by so many residents.

“The best way to address litter is for every resident to take their litter home, and we will focus on preventive measures that will help influence residents to do the right thing.

“There is a good community spirit in Rugby with many people willing to use their own time to keep areas close to them clean and tidy.

"We have had a number of enquiries from young people wanting to litter pick as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award, and I am pleased that we are able to support them with equipment and by assessing their achievements.

“Where litter does accumulate, however, we want to make sure that it is easy for residents to report so that crews can clear hot spots quickly.

And, with extra bins in more popular spaces, there really will be no excuses so we will review our enforcement powers as well.

“Most of our residents recognise that there is no excuse for litter or flytipping.

"The minority of residents who are responsible need to know that neither we nor their community will stand for it and together we will take action."

The new campaign comes after a council crew was finally able to access and clear a litter hotspot under the Black Path bridge.

It took four crew members seven-and-a-half hours to load two vehicles with 170 bags of litter weighing 1140kg.

The area had previously been fenced off as part of a development site, making it inaccessible and a pollution danger.

Rugby councillors Jim Ellis and Kieren Brown said they, and their Labour colleagues, support the new measures

In a joint statement they said: "Labour councillors recognise there is no excuse for litter or fly-tipping and repeated reportage and discussion with the environment officers show an endemic rise in the abuse of our shared spaces.

"The community we represent will not stand for it and local Labour councillors will support contextual enforcement powers."