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Julie Marson MP: 'We need a cultural revolution that makes it much less socially acceptable to drop litter'

There is something particularly annoying about littering. I think it just seems such an unnecessary blight on our landscapes and communities.

Everyone can imagine being caught unawares by a sudden gust of wind or an absent-minded mishap, but generally we have the choice: drop litter or don’t drop litter. It seems a simple one to me.

Litter can have such a serious impact on our quality of life, the pride we feel in our local environment and the wildlife that we enjoy.

The River Stort in Bishop's Stortford is susceptible to littering (46599645)
The River Stort in Bishop's Stortford is susceptible to littering (46599645)

I feel a particular responsibility for the chalk streams in our constituency, which are so rare and provide amazing havens of biodiversity that have a crucial role in our local ecosystem and natural environment. They face a relentless battle for survival that is made even more challenging by persistent littering, which is attributed to 60% of water pollution in this country.

It seems as though it has gradually become more acceptable for people to litter. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign reported that over 30 million tonnes of litter are collected from the streets in England each year, which is enough to fill Wembley stadium to the very top four times.

There are measures that local authorities and the Government can and have put in place to tackle the persistent problem, but more than anything it relies on each of us to take responsibility for our own actions and encourage others that we know to as well – it’s estimated that 65% of people in England drop litter, although only 28% admit to it.

An overflowing bin in Southern Country Park
An overflowing bin in Southern Country Park

We need a cultural revolution that makes it much less socially acceptable to drop litter. If we don't care about litter on our streets, in our parks or on our high streets, we are unlikely to care about other environmental issues that negatively impact on our lives, our communities and society.

And just as importantly to me, if we see rubbish everywhere, it is more difficult to feel pride in the place we live and therefore feel a part of the local community.

The Government has taken steps to reduce the amount of litter seen on our streets, such as introducing a new drinks container deposit return scheme which, in other countries, has dramatically reduced the number of bottles and cans which end up as litter, as well as introducing new powers to ban certain types of single-use plastic, like plastic stemmed cotton buds.

Locally too, we have more stringent enforcement measures available to councils on litter and fly-tipping. There is clearly still some way to go, though.

I will be out with volunteer groups this week on litter-picking days and encourage everyone to reach out to community groups in their area doing similar things.

Last week, I led a Westminster Hall debate on the role of the new Office for Investment. The purpose of this office is to attract foreign direct investment for our businesses and economy.

In our constituency, we benefit from a world-beating life science sector, which has attracted a good portion of the foreign direct investment the UK has received in recent years. In the debate, I wanted to highlight our local leadership in this area and others, and seek assurances from the minister that this office would have responsibility for guiding investment into strategically important areas for Hertford and Stortford.

I was happy with the answers I received and am confident in the strategy and the importance it has in the Government agenda. I was also pleased to hear the minister focus on the importance of clean technology to Britain’s future growth prospects. We have a thriving clean technology and green energy community in Hertford and Stortford that I am very keen to nurture and grow over the next few years as part of the UK’s green industrial revolution.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, the strength of Bishop’s Stortford’s arts sector has been severely tested. So many local people work in this huge industry, many of whom my team and I have spoken to over the past 12 months to assist with accessing various support packages which were made available by the Government.

The challenges they faced have been monumental, which is why I was so pleased to see the Government’s latest initiative designed to reawaken cultural industries that continue to face acute challenges.

Last week, a new £7m Global Screen Fund was launched to help independent film and screen content get made in every corner of the UK and compete globally. The fund will help international competitiveness for independent film and screen content by funding business development, co-production and international distribution activities to help increase global reach and revenues.

This sort of initiative can be the lifeblood to many independent film makers who have seen funding sources disappear recently. Should those working in this sector have other ideas for initiatives that would help relaunch the industry, please do email me with details and I will be happy to share them with ministers.

As ever, please do get in touch if my office can be of assistance. The best way to contact us is via email at Julie.Marson.MP@parliament.uk.

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