IT’S about 4pm on a beautiful sunny midweek afternoon and in Blackburn’s Witton Park quite a few people are strolling with dogs, children and smiles on their faces.
Footballs are being kicked about, pensioners are chatting and there are squeals of delight coming from youngsters in the adventure playground.
There’s just one thing marring a super spring day – black cast iron litter bins and even bigger boxes with four or five recycling holes – all overflowing.
Not only that but alongside them are supermarket plastic bags, full and tied up – but dumped next to the bins they cannot possibly fit into.
Presumably all this litter has been there since the weekend and is the result of families having picnics on the grass and then simply not bothering to take the leftovers home when they can see the containers are stuffed full.
Foxes or dogs, or both, have already ripped some bags open so their contents are scattered.
And nearby the River Darwen has its usual supply of plastic bags containing dog dirt that’s been carefully picked up…and flung into the waterway.
Yes it must be exasperating for council staff but they have to share the blame.
Merely erecting signs threatening fines of up to £20,000 and imprisonment for fly tipping or littering isn’t enough.
However hard-pressed they may be financially councils should set the standard by ensuring bins are emptied daily so no one can have the mental excuse that they were just putting their waste bag next to one that is already there.
Down Under a few decades ago the slogan ‘Don’t Rubbish Australia’ worked wonders. Attitudes were transformed in a way the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign never got near.
A country whose roadsides used to be littered for hundreds of miles with lager cans and food wrappers became clean because in a few years most of the population changed the habits of a lifetime.
Perhaps it was because the clever phrase ‘Don’t Rubbish’ linked stamping out litter to national pride.
Naming and shaming may have its place but it’s also about encouraging individuals to take a lot more personal responsibility for our open spaces.
This only works however if at the same time councils raise their game so we start with a clean sheet, or park.