It was anounced last Sunday (10th April) that the government is to forbid local authorities fining those who transgress their rubbish collection rules. How can this be? Both parties in the coalition are conmmitted to devolution of power to the lowest possible level. To we Liberals it is a fundamental tenet of our faith, and the Tories at least pay lip service to it. So if democratically elected local councils wish to enforce their rules and by-laws with a few fines why on earth shouldn't they, even if it does sound a bit draconian?
However, illiberal as it may sound, I should welcome a tougher stance on littering, dog turds in the streets and parks, overflowing rubbish bins and bins persistently left out to spoil what I believe is now called the "streetscape." When I went on a school trip to Switzerland in the 1950s we were warned that dropping litter was a serious offence which could result in an on-the-spot fine. Careful of our modest means (though there were 8SF to the £ in those days, whilst the "success" of successive Tory and Labour economic policies backed by paliamentary majorities has now, I believe, recduced it to three) this caused us to be very careful indeed, and Switzerland retained its prisitine litter-free condition in spite of our visit.
I should like to see Britain's litter problem treated equally seriously, and propose a sustained and imaginative advertising progrmme for a year, pointing out that from such and such a date dropping litter would become an offence subject to an on-the-spot fine and, from that date not only the police but traffic wardens, park keepers (if there still are any), dog wardens and other "peaked cap" oficials empowered to impose the fines.
I know that sounds a bit like a police state and shouldn't perhaps be coming from one who is not only a Liberal but also a member of Liberty, but it would reduce my blood pressure and make Britain a tidier place rather than one which I'm often ashamed display to my visitors from abroad.