South Cambridgeshire residents are being urged to ensure they follow social distancing rules when meeting friends outdoors – and take their litter home.
Avoid crowded outdoor spaces and take your litter home
This follows reports of large gatherings locally during the past two weekends - including at Grantchester Meadows. The appeals also come after the death of a cow at Grantchester Meadows. The animal had eaten a plastic bag which had become lodged in its windpipe.
Current social distancing guidance from Government allows groups of up to six people to meet outdoors, if they remain apart. Public Health England recommends trying to keep two metres away from people as a precaution. The risk of infection of Coronavirus increases the closer you are to another person with the virus, and the amount of time you spend in close contact with them.
It is an offence to drop litter on land or into water that is accessible to the public even if it’s private land. This applies to private land that the public can access, for example a right of way. Offenders can be prosecuted in a magistrates’ court and fined up to £2,500. Litter droppers can get a fixed penalty notice of £150.
Cllr Bill Handley, Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “My first appeal is that residents must stick to social distancing rules if meeting up with friends outside. I know the weather doesn’t look great for this weekend, but we’ve been concerned at receiving reports of crowds gathering at well-known beauty spots like Grantchester Meadows recently. If you arrive somewhere to meet friends outdoors and it looks busy, use common sense and just go somewhere else, remembering to stay outside. We have all sacrificed too much in the fight against Coronavirus, with tens of thousands of lives tragically lost across the country, for people to ignore the rules now.
“Secondly, it’s heart-breaking to read reports of a cow that’s died after swallowing a plastic bag. Whoever dropped that bag is directly responsible for this poor animal’s death. We’ve not had to threaten enforcement action when it comes to littering in South Cambridgeshire very often before because, up to this point, most residents have been very responsible about taking their rubbish home or putting it into a bin. Now I find myself having to say this: we will fine people for dropping litter if we need to. If we need to send out more enforcement officers to check for people dropping litter, we will. I appreciate that some public bins are fuller than usual and, for the many bins our crews empty, they are doing this more regularly. But if a bin is full – simply take your waste home and recycle it or put it in your own bin. Do not drop it in the countryside. As we’ve heard about this week, it can have terrible consequences.”
Sergeant Kevin Misik from Cambridgeshire Police said: “We will continue to patrol the county’s green spaces where we are now more likely to see groups of people gathering. We’ll continue to engage, explain and encourage people to adhere to the latest restrictions and where necessary, if people are gathering in groups larger than six and failing to disperse, we will issue fixed penalty notices. We will take action against those we see littering.”
South Cambridgeshire is the second largest district in Cambridgeshire.