Birmingham businesses could be asked to take a greater responsibility for clearing up litter dropped by their customers, staff and clients – or face fines of up to £2,500 the city council has warned.
The clean-up initiative will require a range of shops and businesses, including takeaways, pubs, betting shops and even banks whose ATM machines throw out receipts, to ensure the area in front of their premises is kept tidy.
Schools whose pupils drop sweet wrappers and crisp packets could also be targeted under the proposals.
The policy is part of a package of measures outlined in the latest Birmingham City Council green paper on reform of the clean, safe and green services – including refuse collection.
The paper outlines plans to shave about ten per cent from a £75 million controllable budget – including cutting between £2 million and £3 million from the street sweeping costs.
Cabinet member for a green, safe and smart city, James McKay insisted that the service could be reduced without an impact on street cleanliness due to the introduction of wheelie bins and through businesses taking more responsibility for their litter.
He said: “There will be a reduction in the overall level of service. Our experience in Brandwood and Harborne following the introduction of wheelie bins is that they reduce the need for street cleaning.”
Coun McKay (Lab, Harborne) said that businesses will also have to play a greater role in keeping their areas clean, while community groups and voluntary organisations can also step up through a street champion programme.
A series of new measures, litter abatement notices, litter clearing notices and street litter control notices, each with potential fines of up to £2,500 for non-compliance, will be used against the most persistent offenders.
“Fines and enforcement is always the final resort. We much prefer to work with businesses on this,” he said.
The introduction of wheelie bins in Harborne and Brandwood has seen a 20 per cent drop in residual waste – meaning that the council will save £2 million annual landfill tax bill once bins are rolled out city wide.
Negotiations with Veolia, which operates the Tyseley incinerator for the council until 2019, could also see further savings delivered, either through increased recycling or selling any spare capacity at the incinerator to other councils looking to avoid landfill tax.
A further proposal will see the withdrawal of free household bulky waste collection, which will save an estimated £1 million. Birmingham’s 400,000 households are currently entitled to one free collection a year each.
But this could cause more controversy for the refuse collection service which is already withdrawing free garden waste collections from spring next year.
Instead householders face a £25 charge for refuse collectors to take fridges, three piece suites and other large items to the tip.
Coun McKay denied that withdrawing free bulky waste would lead to an increase in fly-tipping.
He said: “The experience in other local authorities, many of whom charge for this, is that there is no rise in fly-tipping.
“Unfortunately the financial position the council is faced with means that we can no longer afford to do this for free.”
But the leadership has ruled out introducing charges for pest control, fearing that the blight of rats, mice, cockroaches and bedbugs could rise if the free extermination services were withdrawn.
Cabinet member for social cohesion John Cotton, who oversaw the service review, said: “The experience in other local authorities suggests that charging for pest control services which are currently free is counter-productive and they have reverted to free services within a short-time.”
However, increased charges for commercial pest control services and outsourcing the service could be considered he added.