Rubbish Call to remove litter bins from beauty spot
DRASTIC action is needed to tackle the “mountains” of rubbish being left on The Downs, according to the supervisor of the large public park.
Ben Skuse, from Bristol City Council’s parks department, said his team were unable to cope with the “vast” quantities of litter and were “disillusioned” by the knowledge none of it was being recycled.
He has suggested removing rubbish bins from The Downs altogether, in the hope people will take their litter home with them, or introducing “unsightly” bays of recycling bins with roadways for bin lorry collections.
Mr Skuse’s proposals divided the group of councillors and Merchant Venturers charged with managing The Downs when it was put to them on Monday.
The Downs Committee decided to wait and see what happens after lockdown before taking any extreme form of action.
One committee member said he was “aghast” to learn that all the rubbish from Bristol’s parks ends up as landfill.
Conservative councillor Geoff Gollop said: “I assumed it was sorted and recycled. The thought it’s not is very disturbing.”
Green councillor Carla Denyer said it was dangerous for Bristol Waste workers to sift through general rubbish to pick out items for recycling, and that she had asked for recycling bins to be introduced to The Downs several times without success.
“We do just need more places for them to put their rubbish and recycling,” Cllr Denyer said.
But two members of the Society of Merchant Venturers were opposed to the idea of adding extra bins to The Downs, and favoured people taking their litter home with them.
Society chair Gillian Camm said she found the idea of “enormous [recycling] hoppers” on The Downs “appalling”.
Ms Camm said: “The Downs is an iconic space that needs to be loved and cherished and protected by us all, and I’m just at a loss to understand why people aren’t taking their rubbish home with them.”
Merchant Venturer Peter Rilett said he did not think the council could “out bin” the problem and taking them all away could prompt people to take their litter home with them.
Mr Skuse agreed, saying he too favoured removing all the bins and had only suggested the introduction of recycling bins as it represents “the other end of the extreme”.
He said: “Something needs to change. We’re operating in the middle somewhere, where we have a few permanent bins and then we add to them as we come into the summer, and we add and we add and we add.
“We are maximised with extra bins at the moment... and you’re still getting mountains of rubbish left around seven or eight oil drum bins in a row that are full.
“Maybe we either take away all the bins and see what happens, see if that drives behavioural change [or] build [recycling] bays – but that’s going to be an unsightly thing that’s going to require a roadway leading up to it to load from. Is that really what we want?”
Jon James, head of the council’s natural environment service, advised the committee to wait until after lockdown restrictions lift to see whether people’s behaviour changes “naturally”.
Downs Committee chair Lord Mayor Steve Smith said he would write to Bristol Waste in the meantime, expressing the committee’s concern about the litter problem and to find out “what other cooperation we could do in the short term to deal with the issue”.