Thrown out! Reality check halts bid to scrap Downs rubbish bins

September 28 2021

Official guardians of The Downs have rejected calls for a “big bang” removal of rubbish bins from the public common to tackle a growing problem with litter.
Members of the Downs Committee, whose job it is to manage Clifton Down and Durdham Down in Bristol, have instead agreed to take steps to persuade people to take their litter home with them, with a view to reducing bin numbers in future.
The statutory committee of city councillors and Merchant Venturers resolved on September 20 to ask Bristol City Council to send its litter wardens to The Downs to issue on-the-spot fines.
It also plans to ask the council to run a city-wide public education campaign about litter in parks.
There are about 36 bins on The Downs. Half a dozen are permanent and the rest are extra oil drum bins in place temporarily over summer.
Removing the rubbish bins from The Downs was first mooted in July by a member of the council’s parks team who said they could not cope with the “mountains” of rubbish being left beside overflowing bins.
Downs supervisor Ben Skuse repeated the suggestion at the committee meeting, saying he would like to see the bins removed because it would mean “people are thinking about their waste, minimising it, taking it away, disposing of it correctly”.
“Putting it in our bins is not disposing of it correctly, because that is not being recycled effectively, to my knowledge,” he said.
Mr Skuse said the bins could be removed “all at once” or gradually over a number of years.
The proposal divided members of the committee, with Merchant Venturers Peter Rilett and David Powell in favour of a “short sharp shock” approach.
Councillors, on the other hand, said although they liked the idea of removing all the rubbish bins, they did not think it would work in reality.
Cllr Geoff Gollop, who represents Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze, said local residents would suffer if the bins were removed.
“I don’t know how we would cope with the volume of rubbish that would be left behind, so I would be very concerned if we went down that route,” he said.
Cllr Carla Denyer said she did not think the complete removal of bins was “realistic” or “reasonable” given that a cafe and three ice-cream vans operate on The Downs.
Cllr Steve Smith, who chairs the Downs Committee as part of his role as Lord Mayor of Bristol, said: “I’m not hearing wide support for a sort of big bang removal of bins but I’ll see if we can get some support for enforcement there and comms city-wide.”
FODAG chair Robert Westlake, who managed Ashton Court for several years, said the park still had “a big litter problem” despite having no bins.
By Amanda Cameron,
 Local Democracy Reporter