A town centre street in Wellingborough will remain totally uncleaned this weekend, as part of an experiment to highlight how much litter is dropped every day and the cost of picking it up.
The borough council has teamed up with environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy for the experiment, which will see one side of Church Street in the town litter picked as normal, while the other side is left uncleaned. Towns and cities up and down the country will be joining in, as the 'Which side of the fence are you on?' project shows people what happens when councils stop cleaning up after them.
Litter costs almost £1 billion a year to deal with in England. More than £100,000 a year is spent in Wellingborough just on picking up rubbish from the ground. The experiment this weekend aims to make people think about the unnecessary cost of picking up after people who litter.
Chairman of Wellingborough Council's community committee, Cllr Peter Morrall, said: "People don't realise just how much litter is picked up every day from the streets of our town and villages, and, more importantly, the huge cost of this. It's only because we spend more than £100,000 every year cleaning up after people that we're not knee deep in rubbish.
"We need people to see the harsh reality of what happens when a place is not cleaned up for them. We want them to think about the ways in which the money it costs to pick up dropped litter could be better spent.
"Living and working in a pleasant and clean environment is incredibly important, but the way to achieve that is not for councils to spend money picking up after people, but instead for people not to drop the litter in the first place. It's not fair that so much taxpayers' money is spent on something that could be so easily prevented.
"That's why we're taking part in this experiment, in the hope that it will make people realise that litter is everyone's problem. It's time for people to decide which side of the fence they are on, and if they want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution."
Talking about the national litter problem, Keep Britain Tidy's chief executive Phil Barton said: "The £1 billion bill that we are all paying to clean litter off our streets, parks and beaches is too high. It's time everyone realised the scale of the task facing local authorities in keeping the places we call home clean and tidy.
"The answer to solving the litter problem that blights our country is in our own hands. We need to take responsibility for our own behaviour and do one simple thing - put our rubbish in a bin.
"We're delighted that Wellingborough Council is joining with us in this activity. Local authorities are working tirelessly to deal with the problem of litter but they cannot solve the problem alone. They need support from individuals, communities and businesses."
The whole of Church Street, in Wellingborough's town centre, will be cleaned as normal on Friday 15 November. After that, only the south side of the street (the side with the church on) will be cleaned over the weekend, with the north side (the side with Tresham College on) not being cleaned until 6am Monday morning.
Officers from Wellingborough Norse, the company that carries out environmental services on behalf of the council, will be out and about along Church Street over the weekend to monitor and record the results of the experiment, and to answer questions from members of the public.
To find out more about Keep Britain Tidy's Which Side of the Fence...? campaign and to sign up, people can visit www.keepbritaintidy.org