Tuesday, 20 December 2016


Along with many other local authorities in the country, Bexley Council has started trying to recover some of the £850 million spent every year by the UK taxpayer on litter and fly tipping removal by issuing fixed penalties for offenders in the borough and now has a dedicated litter patrol operating in Bexleyheath Broadway and elsewhere. 

Councils already have legislation enabling them to bring offenders to court, with fines of up to £50,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment but, as with most other councils, Bexley are going down the fixed penalty notice option first, at least for the less serious offences.

Littering will now attract a penalty of £80, with a penalty of £50 for dog fouling and a maximum of £400 for fly tipping.

According to the Bexley Council website, they are currently spending £38,000 a year clearing up after fly tippers so they will need to issue a lot of tickets to recover the cost of that. Given that there were 852,000 reported incidents of fly tipping in the UK during 2014 it shouldn't be too difficult.

According to the Keep Britain Tidy website, there are 8 million dogs in the UK which between them produce more than 1000 tons of mess every day and Bexley has joined the other 90% of councils that operate dog wardens. Penalties for fouling vary between authorities but the cost in Bexley is £50. It's just a shame that they intend to remove all the dog mess litter bins in the borough. Personally, I wouldn't want to carry the stuff home in my pocket.

Reaction to the litter wardens is interesting. Pretty much everyone you talk to will agree that something should be done about the dirty pigs who spit their chewing gum out onto the street/shop floor/wherever they like. 

"According to the INCPEN survey, chewing gum constitutes 26% of all litter. The LGA estimates that clearing chewing gum costs the average town centre £60,000 per year. On the basis of 936 towns in England this could add up to £56 million per year. Staining from the gum is particularly difficult to remove as it requires high pressure hoses. As a result of these costs some councils do not remove gum at all." (House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee "Litter and Fly Tipping in England" )

Also, apart from the people actually responsible for it, we are all happy with the idea that the cost of clearing up cans, bottles and fast food containers should be met by the people who dump it.

This is what the top of Linton Mead in 
Thamesmead looks like. Staff from the
nearby primary school spend their break
time standing there, puffing away like
Thomas the Tank Engine and his Friends

then throw the fag ends into the street. 
These then have to be cleared up at 
Greenwich council tax payers expense or, 
more likely, left to wash into the nearby 
drain the next time it rains. Assuming they
 don't then block the sewer, they will finish 
up in the river, then the sea.
There is one exception to all this support however and it comes from one specific group of people.

You guessed it; the most anti-social group of the lot. I'm talking about smokers. Not only do they think that they can foul up the air with a noxious concoction of carcinogenic fumes, they also think they should be allowed to dump the resulting litter in the street. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that they are responsible for by far the largest amount of litter by volume.

"According to the LEQSE, smokers’ materials—butts, packaging, matches— are the most commonly occurring items of litter. The INCPEN survey finds that smokers’ litter comprises 35.2% of total litter." (House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee "Litter and Fly Tipping in England" )

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted on a Facebook group that I belong to that he had been caught dropping one of the 4.5 trillion cigarette ends discarded worldwide on the street by smokers every year and been given a fixed £80 penalty. He admitted what he had done was wrong and that he was willing to pay up. A hysterical response then followed, all of which came from smokers who seem to think that the world is their ashtray and that it was all a plot by the council to "penalise" smokers for their habit.

All of the protests were about cigarette ends. You didn't get anyone saying that they should be able to spit their chewing gum out where they like or, "my dog can crap wherever he wants", but as soon as we ask smokers to behave in a civilised way, suddenly they are a poor persecuted minority.

Just so everyone is clear about this, here are some interesting facts. Don't think that people drop cigarette ends because there is no other way to dispose of them. A survey carried out by an American anti-litter group "Keep America Beautiful", providing cigarette waste receptacles only reduced littering by 9%; the rest were just dropped anyway.

Cigarette filters are made from a plastic called cellulose acetate, it takes up to 10 years to degrade and as with all other plastics, never really goes away, it just gets broken down into smaller pieces. The filters themselves when discarded will be contaminated with poisonous chemicals including tar, nicotine and all of the other chemicals produced by the burning of tobacco, many of which are known to cause cancer in humans.

These cigarette ends which are dumped and not removed by litter patrols will eventually find their way into drains, sometimes in such quantities as to block sewage systems. They then make their way into rivers, lakes and eventually, the sea. This highly toxic soup of chemicals then gets absorbed by small animals and into the food chain; assuming that it hasn't already killed whatever it has come into contact with. Water fleas, a vital part of the lower food chain can be killed by just one used filter in 2 gallons of water. (CleanVirginiaWaterways.edu).

It's not surprising that someone with an addiction problem will develop paranoid delusions of persecution when their lifestyle comes under any type of threat. I realise that if you are a smoker, you have a addiction problem but it is your problem and shouldn't be my problem as well. If you are unable to stop smoking then please try and consider others and take your litter home with you or dispose of it responsibly.

Information for this article cam from the following sources:-

Advice and information about help with stopping smoking can be found here:-


I just read an article on the BBC website about a really interesting new Android global network app produced by the Berkley University of California. It's called MyShake, it uses the accelerator in your smartphone, running in the background while your phone is stationary and detects earthquakes. Don't ask me how it does this but they assure us that they can tell the difference between a genuine earth tremor and the normal movement of the phone. 

The idea is so new that they still don't have a full understanding of how they are going to use all the information they retrieve. Remember, there are thousands of earth tremor detectors around the world but this will increase the number by an order of magnitude. It could eventually change our whole understanding of earthquake science and even possibly result in an effective early warning of events sufficiently in advance to give people time to take action to protect themselves. Current systems give only minutes, if that.

Berkley University is no stranger to innovative cloud science. They created the Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) program which is used by hundreds of science and other projects, allowing access to virtual supercomputer processing power without the associated expense.

I already run World Community Grid on all my devices and even run the SETI@Home project from time to time. Haven't found ET yet.

They don't have an app to run on Apple devices yet but are promising something at some time in the future.

If you want to run a project on your device or computer, you can download the program from here.

1 comment:

  1. Completely right re the litter. Once upon a time the police would enforce litter legislation, of course now that their resources have been slashed litter would be one of the first things to be overlooked.