By Janine Pulford
When discussing the subject recently on Dorset View’s social media sites, residents have said that the volume of plastic and other rubbish littering roadside verges is ruining the county.
Local motorists agree on one thing: Dorset’s verges are filthy.
“Our county is disgraceful,” said Jacqueline Moss who has reported the litter problem to BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) and Dorset councils.
Although both councils recently cleaned the spur road from the Cooper Dean to the Ashley Heath roundabout, the work was long overdue.
Just days before the clean up commenced, Eleonora Hazel said: “Bournemouth Spur Road is a tip. I couldn’t believe the state of it. It’s true there is no pride in this country, so different in Europe.”
Cleaning such a busy road isn’t straightforward and for the safety of the councils’ crews, the A338 spur road had to be closed in both directions from 9pm–6am while the work was carried out, and diversions had to be put in place.
Sadly, within two days of the big clean up, the litterlouts had returned. An inspection by a Dorset View reporter on 28 March, revealed several plastic bottles on the verge, the odd bag of rubbish and at least half a dozen other bits of other litter strewn along the southbound carriageway from Ringwood to the ‘welcome’ bridge on the approach to Bournemouth, thereafter the amount of litter noticeably increased.
The northbound route of the Spur Road from Bournemouth to Ringwood, revealed much more litter after the clean up with some of detritus looking as if it had blown off commercial vehicles.
James Potten, business partner – Place Communications & Engagement Team, Dorset Council said, “It’s evident some of the roadside rubbish we pick has come from unsecured loads from industrial/ commercial vehicles, but the principle is the same as if someone litters from a car or van. Any waste that gets discarded incorrectly – purposely or not – is treated as litter and the driver is liable to enforcement action.”
Other litter hotspots pointed out by residents via Dorset View’s social media include Christchurch bypass and the road between Canford Bottom roundabout and West Moors. Three Legged Cross to West Moors Road was called a “favoured dumping ground,” by Judie Jones.
The A31 was criticised heavily. Marion Pope called it “a disgrace.”
The section from the Lidl roundabout in Ferndown to the industrial estate roundabout was called “awful,” by Kathy Allen.
Elsewhere in Ferndown the story is the same: “KFC litter… packaging and food thrown in roads around Ferndown. Noticeably Woodside Road and Ringwood Road,” said Warren Brown.
And Pauline Smith said: “I walked along Ringwood Road as far as McDonalds. The amount of rubbish along that section was disgusting.” Even her own garden is being used as a rubbish dump. “With gloves on I picked up three lager cans, wrappers from sweets and other debris including a pair of socks,” she said.
Wendy Coldrick said she was “embarrassed to live in Dorset.”
Not all the roads in Dorset come under the responsibility of Dorset Council. And of those mentioned in this article, Christchurch bypass is BCP’s responsibility as is the largest part of the A338.
Both councils point out that the litter isn’t created by them, but by motorists who discard rubbish illegally.
Cllr Mark Anderson, portfolio holder for Environment, Cleansing and Waste, BCP Council said: “Unfortunately, there is always a lot of litter dumped on the roadside by drivers who seem unaware of their contribution to soil and water pollution.
“We treat instances of littering and fly tipping very seriously and anyone caught dumping rubbish can be fined. We want people to be proud to live in this area, and by having cleaner roads and seeing people actively cleaning our streets will hopefully encourage people not to drop litter and bring back a sense of pride in our place.”
Councillor Jill Haynes, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer and Community Services, said: “While we have a duty to clear the litter from our roads, I would kindly ask people to remember that it is not the council who produce this waste.
“A small number of anti-social motorists spoil these verges for everyone by littering from vehicles and clearing it up takes valuable council resources away from essential services, when drivers could easily take their waste home.”
She said that despite the council’s clean up efforts, some roads become covered in litter again just weeks later, often leading to the assumption that litter picking hasn’t been done or that it won’t be done at all.
She pointed out that arranging litter picking on high-speed roads takes a great deal of planning and some activities had been “delayed due to the challenges presented by the pandemic.”
Dorset Council is continuing its fight against roadside litter elsewhere in the county along some of the busiest roads.
Overnight litter picking on the A31 from the River Stour to the county boundary is scheduled for April, where a Highways England approved traffic management contractor will be used to ensure waste operatives’ safety on the trunk road.
Elsewhere in the county, Stapehill Road in Ferndown, the A354 Weymouth Relief Road, B3157 Granby Way, Blandford Bypass and Upton Bypass are monitored and inspected for litter, as well as having programmed litter picking throughout the year.
Councillor Jill Haynes said: “We simply don’t have the resources to litter pick every verge in the council area, so we focus our attention on the busiest A roads, which need strict health and safety considerations. It’s the continued efforts of volunteers and community groups that keep our rural verges litter free. Thank you for your invaluable help.”
BCP’s Mark Anderson said: “We are committed to protecting and enhancing our natural environment and we’re addressing the issue of litter across our conurbation through our Cleaner, Greener, Safer campaign that aims to bring back a sense of pride to our area.”
Dorset Council is supporting this year’s #LoveYourVerge campaign, which will see ‘pop-up’ signage on roadsides to celebrate local habitat and the biodiversity across Dorset, and encourage residents and visitors to value verges and other open spaces. The campaign is a collaboration between the council’s Greenspace Service and Litter Free Dorset.
Residents should report litter problems, fly-tipping and rubbish being thrown from a vehicle online on their local council’s website.
Is a verge near you clean or filthy? Let the author of this article know so that Dorset can take back pride in its verges and give accolades to those that look their best to balance those currently at their worst. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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