Keep Leeds Tidy: YEP launches new campaign after shocking figures reveal state of our streets

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LEEDS is our city, so let’s show it some love.

That’s the clarion call to Leeds citizens today as the Yorkshire Evening Post launches its new Keep Leeds Tidy campaign.

Leeds city centre.

Leeds city centre.

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New figures obtained by the YEP reveal that the city is in the grips of a littering and flytipping epidemic.

Leeds has landed 8th in a national league of shame of flytipping hotspots, with clean-up costs for one recent year soaring past £1million.

The number of incidents of flytipping reported to Leeds City Council last year also surged to more than 16,000, a five year high and more than DOUBLE the fines for 2013/14.

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The council has stressed that the significant increase in flytipping figures is due to improved reporting and recording rather than an actual doubling of incidents. However the authority admits the numbers bring into sharp focus the extent of the problem, and the city’s efforts to tackle it.

Numbers of penalty fines for littering have also soared in recent years - but much of that is down to a new zero tolerance approach which included a private firm being hired to issue on the spot fines.

Figures show that there have been more than 15,000 penalty fines issued in the past five years for littering in Leeds.

However rates have risen dramatically since 2013/14, after private contractor 3GS was hired for litter enforcement predominantly in the city centre.

In the firm’s first year, the numbers of fines issued rose from 188 to 3,638, an increase of more than 2,000 per cent.

The council’s income from littering fines has also shot up, from just over £7,000 in 2012/13 to £143,000 last year. The highest individual income year from littering fines was £169,000 in 2014/15.

Meanwhile dog fouling and graffiti also remain major bugbears for communities across Leeds. However figures show that the number of fines issued against irresponsible dog owners - who fail to clean up after their pets - have actually FALLEN from a high of 32 two years ago to just 22 last year. There were just TWO prosecutions of pet owners in the past year.

Throughout this week, we will be putting the spotlight on the city’s battle to conquer its life of grime. We will also pay tribute to the dozens of volunteer networks who are reclaiming their neighbourhoods from the irresponsible few, by holding regular clean-ups and sacrificing their own time for the greater good.

Last week, the YEP reported how scores of people from across the city gathered at Pudsey Civic Hall to brainstorm ideas and make a citywide pledge to clean up neighbourhoods blighted by litter louts, flytippers and inconsiderate dog owners.

The ‘Clean Leeds’ conference was organised in the run up to Keep Britain Tidy’s March GB Spring Clean campaign.

The packed event heard from individuals and residents’ groups from across the city, and a series of workshops explored ways in which the issues can be tackled from the grass roots.

It is hoped ideas will now be shared across the city through the creation of a Clean Leeds network.

Among the attendees was Jonathan Butler, who lives in Jude Court, Bramley, who said: “I just want my local area to be clean and tidy, and safe for everybody to live in.”

Discussions last week also focused on how to stop businesses dumping their trade waste to save cash and the impact of council plans to start charging for bulky waste collections.

The meeting was told that more council resources were needed to be able to catch people in the act of littering and flytipping, with one attendee suggesting that more covert cameras should be used.

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