I have received an awful lot of complaints recently about litter strewn along the verges of the A55.
Constituents tell me what a terrible impression it gives of Chester as they drive into, or round, our city. And they are correct.
The awful truth is that the problem is there all year round, but the undergrowth has receded during winter, making the litter more visible.
One resident told me that they had seen rubbish blowing off the back of a refuse lorry. That’s bad, but I prefer that explanation to the other one, which is of people just chucking litter away from their cars.
I cannot understand the mentality of someone who chucks litter on the ground, and can think no more of it.
Who feels no more sense of responsibility to dispose of rubbish properly but just move on, leaving the problem to someone else.
It is lazy at best, and wholly anti-social and irresponsible at worst. And, of course, damaging to the local environment.
That lack of concern for others drives me mad.
With the A55 the problem has been a spilt of responsibilities. The road is managed by Highways England, who say that keeping the verges clear is down to Cheshire West and Chester Council.
CWaC for their part suffer from the usual problem: massive cuts by the government to their budget – over £330 million since 2010 – mean that they hardly have enough money for essential services like looking after vulnerable children and elderly people.
You can’t blame them when faced with such a massive and unfair cut to their funding.
But now must be the time to take action. We can’t have a community clear up, because the road is far too fast and dangerous. And we certainly would not get permission.
So this week I have been working with the council and Highways England to get a joint approach so we can finally get the verges cleared.
There’s another solution. Last month, prompted by residents in Backford, I contacted the Environment Department, asking them to require drive-through fast food restaurants to put the car registration on food packaging. I also wrote to McDonalds and KFC. Backford residents tell me they have a particular problem with litter, maybe because they’re close to Cheshire Oaks.
Sadly the minister did not agree, mentioning something about data protection. But I think it is an idea worth pursuing, either to catch the culprits or better still deter them.
Because the best solution is for people to stop littering all together. We’re lucky to live in a beautiful city surrounded by beautiful countryside. I want to keep it that way and I have nothing but contempt for anyone who is too lazy to play their part.