Maidstone was selected to take part in the campaign, developed by Keep Britain Tidy, which comes after a new survey, carried out by the environmental charity, shows that more than half of the country’s parks have had to pull in extra resources to deal with the issues, including litter and anti-social behaviour, since lockdown was eased.
Of those, 81% had to spend more on clearing up litter, 79% on bin emptying and 72% on maintaining public order or enforcing lockdown rules. Councils also reported clearing up, on average, 57tonnes of additional waste from their park.
The levels of litter and waste being left by members of the public has reached unprecedented levels in Brenchley Gardens and the Council Grounds Maintenance Team work tirelessly to keep the area clean and tidy on a daily basis.
Mark Rumble is a gardener in the park as part of the MBC Grounds Maintenance Team. He said:
“I work hard to keep the gardens looking nice. It is so demoralising when anti-social behaviour and littering spoil it for everyone else. It would be really good if the Keep Britain Tidy project helps in any way encourage people to think about what they are doing.”
Cllr Derek Mortimer, MBC Chair of the Communities, Housing and Environment Committee added:
“Maidstone Borough Council is delighted to be selected to work with Keep Britain Tidy in this national campaign.
“Over the last few months, I think we’ve all seen what an asset our parks open areas area. The Love Parks campaign is an ideal opportunity for us to highlight the importance of keeping these areas clean and tidy for everyone to enjoy.”
Richard McIlwain, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said:
“The UK was the birthplace of the public park and their value was recognised by many people during lockdown, as a haven of greenspace for exercise and relaxation. As lockdown measures have eased, we’ve seen a significant minority of people abuse these treasured spaces, with shocking scenes of anti-social behaviour, leading to littering, people using parks as toilets and abuse of parks staff.
“The Love Parks campaign, which has been made available to every local authority in the country and which is based on behavioral science, will act as an effective nudge to actively encourage people to treat our beautiful parks – and the amazing staff who work in them – with respect this summer.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow added:
“As the Coronavirus lockdown has eased, the amount of litter being left in parks, green spaces and beaches across the country is unacceptable. I wholeheartedly support Keep Britain Tidy’s new campaign to tackle this issue.
“There is simply no excuse to leave rubbish behind, and councils can issue fines of up to £150 to those caught doing it. If you are unable to dispose of litter, then please take it home so you don’t destroy what you have come to enjoy.”