Last week I held a successful meeting with constituents concerned about the rubbish on our streets. People from Bristol West contact me on a daily basis about this issue, which blights the city that we love.

Despite the great work of the Bristol Waste Company, some streets, parks and public spaces in Bristol are frequently left in an ugly state, strewn with litter and waste. Whether this is from careless littering, intentional fly tipping or animals tearing into refuse bags, the effect is unpleasant for everyone in the city – particularly in the summer heat.

At the meeting last week, I brought together several constituents who have contacted me with ideas for solving some of Bristol’s waste problems. Other participants included Kye Dudd, the councillor responsible for waste and enforcement, Council staff, the Bristol Waste Company, anti-waste campaigners and business representatives.

Some of the waste dumped on streets comes from shops, bars and other businesses. Unfortunately, this is often because the businesses do not have a trade waste agreement with a commercial waste company, even though they are legally bound to do so. The good news is that the Council have made some progress in confronting these companies. In these cases, or if the Council can prove fly tipped waste has come from a particular source, this can also lead to fines or prosecution.

This is only fair. Fly tipping makes our environment unpleasant. And when the Council cleans up rubbish, we all pay through our council tax. This money could be much better spent on providing other services.

In the meeting, local residents praised the Bristol Waste Company for their work cleaning up litter and waste, which has led to huge improvements in some areas, including some central areas and Stapleton Road. But the problem is too big for them to take on alone. We all need to play a part in keeping Bristol clean.

What you can do

A lot of people in Bristol West are actively keeping the streets clean, both by picking up litter and reporting waste to the council. I am extremely grateful to them for freely giving their time to make our city a more pleasant place to be.

If you would like to organise a litter pick in your local area, Bristol Waste Company can provide litter picking kits (high vis vests, litter pickers and bags) and collect the rubbish, for free. Find out more here.

If you witness fly tipping, please report it. The Council’s advice is not to approach fly tippers directly, but if you can collect information – including photos or vehicle registration numbers – you can report them to the Council here. For other problems, Bristol Waste Company has a handy guide to street cleansing, with links for contacting different teams.

Perhaps the most important response to our waste problem is to avoid creating waste in the first place. There are plenty of places you can get advice on how to fix a broken appliance, piece of furniture or item of clothing. Check out the Bristol Repair Café Facebook page for details of when they are holding an event in your area. There also many organisations in Bristol who will happily turn your trash into someone else’s treasure, whether it is an unwanted sofa, bike or waste timber. This article has a good list.

New ideas

It was great to see such positive ideas emerge from the meeting – from reducing single-use plastic waste from fast food outlets, to holding landlords more accountable for the rubbish from houses of multiple occupancy.

It also generated other questions, including how we can make it easier for students to dispose of unwanted things at the end of term, or the most effective way of cleaning up after Bristol’s many festivals and events.

I will continue to work on this with the Council, constituents and local groups. Join me – together we can clean up Bristol’s streets.

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