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Alcohol ban in Cambridge parks considered to tackle littering menace

Drinking alcohol in some of Cambridge’s parks could be banned at night-time because revellers have repeatedly left litter strewn across the city’s green spaces.

The city council’s litter-picking teams have been collecting upwards of 30 sacks of rubbish from Jesus Green and Laundress Green.

Young volunteers collecting rubbish after revellers left piles of debris behind
Young volunteers collecting rubbish after revellers left piles of debris behind

Now Katie Thornburrow, executive councillor for planning policy and open spaces, has revealed that the council is “considering all the options”, including community protection orders to ban alcohol from specific areas where there are also concerns that social distancing is being ignored.

She told the Cambridge Independent: “These parties are causing litter, but are they also putting lives in danger? I do not want to use of these orders, but they are a final option.

“It is on the table and has been used across Cambridge in various circumstances, such as in certain areas of Hills Road, where there were drug and alcohol problems causing anti-social behaviour. But it is a last resort.”

The biggest clear-up so far was on Midsummer Common on Monday of last week after it was swarmed with drinkers over the weekend, when Midsummer Fair would normally have taken place.

Cllr Thornburrow stressed: “The littering is due to people coming out and using the open space – it’s not from people drinking in pubs or cafés and or having takeaways. In the late afternoons, we find people do clear up after themselves. But at night-time people are partying.

“The worst spots are Laundress Green and Jesus Green. We are reviewing our messaging and we are reviewing our litter bins.

“We want to make it clear and easy for people to take away their litter or put it in the bin.”

People have been able to meet in groups of six outdoors since June and Cllr Thornburrow believes it is the release from strict lockdown that has led to the problems.

“People feel a release at finally being able to be outside, but they need to be more community-minded,” she said.

“I haven’t been in the parks at night but it is obvious from what is left the next day. We know from the litter left that they are bulk-buying alcohol in the supermarkets.

“We welcome the use of parks, day and night, but people need to be more responsible and understand its space. One option is to for us not to clear up after people one weekend, so everyone can see how much rubbish is left.”

“We are concerned that there is also a problem with people not following the rules on social distancing.”

Cllr Katie Thornburrow. Picture: James Kirwan
Cllr Katie Thornburrow. Picture: James Kirwan

As the Cambridge Independent has reported, a cow suffocated to death after consuming a plastic bag left by picknickers on Grantchester Meadows.

Jean Glasburg, of Newnham Residents’ Association, said the littering problem was also bad on Lammas Land and Skater’s Meadow.

She said: “We see this mess pretty much every morning, especially when the weather has been hot. It has been terrible.

“Of course in the summer we do have a lot of visitors to Lammas Land and the Meadows, and people love to come and enjoy the green spaces, but previously it has tended to be in the daytime, particularly on Lammas Land, where families come to sit.

“This has been different, because a lot of it has been in the evenings. During lockdown there haven’t been places open for people to go, so there have been a lot of people using these spaces.

“I can understand it because they have been cooped up for three months, and they want to ge out and see their friends and party a bit and the nightclubs and pubs are closed, so where can they go? But the problem we have is the amount of litter they are leaving. This is a problem seen across the country. About 75 per cent of the rubbish we are seeing is alcohol-related. People take their cans down to the meadows to party and just leave them there.

“I have seen groups of about 30 people at a time. I haven’t been there later in the evening - I avoid it because it’s not very pleasant.”

Young volunteers collecting rubbish after revellers left piles of debris behind
Young volunteers collecting rubbish after revellers left piles of debris behind

She added: “It has been shocking to see people have been there partying and just left the litter behind.

“Is it right that residents and the council have been cleaning this up? Does this give the impression the fairies just come and remove it all? People need to see the impact of this. Residents here collect bags full of rubbish at 6am so it all looks nice, but by the evening it’s in a mess again.”

Stefan Pozzi is part of a group that has organised litter-picking in the meadows.

He said: “We have been encouraging people to take their litter home with them. And we have spoken to shops to ask them not to sell disposable barbecues.

“The rubbish we see is a lot of beer cans, bottles, food and disposable barbecues. We have handed out rubbish sacks to groups to encourage rhythm to take litter home.

“There isn’t enough bin space so we would like the council to do something about it.”

With many pubs now open again, the city council will be hoping the problem falls away, or it will have to take action.

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