Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
How tidy-up campaign has swept all before it
Daniel Newton and Shelley Slater at the launch of the campaign in Templars Square, Cowley in January
IT STARTED as an Oxford Mail-backed campaign to tidy up Oxford city centre.
Four years on, the Oxford City Council Cleaner, Greener campaign has stretched to cleaning derelict homes, estates, parks, and even the food off your plate.
Enforcement officers are a familiar sight around the city centre, and now the work of a dedicated team encompasses Jericho, Blackbird Leys, Barton, and Cowley Road, with Rose Hill the next target.
The team of community response officers, parks officers and PCSOs have been quietly issuing fines and recently dished out the 1,000th notice for littering.
But Cleaner Greener is not just about warnings and fines.
It takes care of graffiti and recycling, and is going in to schools to push the message that everyone must do their bit to make sure Oxford is a tidy place to live.
The shoots of the project burst through in 2008 when the Oxford Mail’s sister paper The Oxford Times got behind OxClean Spring Clean 2008, a mass litter pick.
OxClean is an Oxford Civic Society initiative that dedicates itself to keeping Oxford tidy all year round.
Ros Weatherall, former chairwoman of OxClean, said: “The council was unpopular when it brought in fortnightly bin changes, so we suggested a group litter pick and it grew from there.
“We do it every year and it is popular because it helps get to the corners of the city where the council can’t always reach.
“We have found that people actually enjoy litter picking in groups. They don’t like doing it alone but seem to enjoy it with other people.
“I think that people are tidier now and that Oxford is much cleaner than it was.”
In 2009 Cleaner, Greener was launched to take up the mantle, and a year later Oxford was voted the cleanest city in Britain by the readers of Conde Naste’s Traveller magazine.
City council community response team manager Laurie-Jane Taylor said: “There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t know about.
“We are trying to engage more with members of the public.
“I think the message is getting across now that if you drop litter in the city centre you will get fined, but people are less aware of what we are doing in targeting the estates.
“People can get fined for not putting their bins out on the correct day. It is an issue that irritates a lot of people.
“We have also been working with housing associations and the police to go in and fix up homes that have been left in a mess.
“I don’t think there will ever be a day when the Cleaner Greener campaign’s work is done, but I am proud of the before and after-effects that you can see.
“Our next area is Rose Hill. We are currently looking at what specific problems there are for us to go in and tackle.”
The team has officers who go out into communities and report back on problem areas or hot-spots.
While they are still waving the flag over their more visible patrols, such as the summer 2013 parks campaign, the team is also pulling in the wider business community to assist.
In the past year, cigarette bins have been installed in Temple Cowley Shopping Centre, John Allen Centre, John Allen Park and the maisonette blocks on Barns Road.
It has left the running of these to the shops, and officers will regularly check on progress.
However, ultimately Cleaner, Greener aims to make residents and businesses take responsibility for their immediate environment.
There is the carrot, such as the grass seed planted on the slope from Between Towns Road to John Allen Centre.
And there is also the stick.Cleaner, Greener officers can impose on-the-spot fines to anyone caught dropping litter, discarding rubbish from a vehicle, throwing away cigarette ends or chewing gum as well as fly-posting and doing graffiti.
They can also fine people for drinking alcohol in parks – and confiscate it.
Dog mess is also a particular menace across the city, in green areas and on pavements, and the team has involved the police to help enforce fines.
Since 2009, the team has swelled to between 20 and 30 members at any one time.
John Tanner, the city council board member responsible for Cleaner, Greener, said: “I have one of the best jobs on the cabinet.
“Keeping Oxford clean, reducing our carbon footprint and encouraging recycling has really been made possible by the brilliant efforts by the residents.
“People want to keep their areas tidy and they have embraced it.
“We have used fines when absolutely necessary and it has worked in the city centre, but we are finding that people are taking more responsibility than they did four years ago.
“Litter was the problem and we are nearly there. Chewing gum is the next step.
“We will be pushing out to other corners of the city but have been encouraged by how people have embraced it.”
- 100,000 cigarette butts are dropped in Oxford city centre every week.
- £26,000 was spent on removing chewing gum from Cornmarket Street alone.
- £2,500 is the maximum fine that can be imposed by magistrates if people do not pay their £80 littering fines issued by the council.
- 1,000 fixed penalty notices handed out to people spotted dropping litter in Oxford since 2009.
- 50 sacks of rubbish collected around Blackbird Leys during a deep clean.
- 16 signs around the city centre telling people not to drop litter.
- 15 East Oxford businesses investigated for trade waste offences after failing to comply with clean-up notice.
FIXED penalty notice costs:
- Dropping litter £80 s Failure to comply with a street litter control notice £100
- Failure to comply with a litter clearing notice £100
- Failure to produce waste documents £300
- Failure to produce authority to transport waste £300
- Failure to comply with a waste receptacles notice £100
- Failure to comply with a dog control order £80
- Graffiti/flyposting £55