Pick it up or get penalised

Seems our throwaway society is still just that! A significant increase in rubbish left in parks and open spaces since lockdown eased has led to Bath & North East Somerset Council launching an anti-littering campaign with the message ‘Don’t be a tosser’.

With the council’s cleansing team having dealt with more than 120 littering incidents in the district in May and June this year alone, the Council says the message needs to be clear that people’s rubbish is their responsibility and they must use a bin or take their litter home.

Don t be a tosser jpg

Temporary ‘Don’t be a tosser’ signs will soon be going up in parks and open spaces in Keynsham, Saltford and Bath in locations where littering has become a real problem.

The council is making clear that the notices are not intended to cause offence to anyone but that the message must be hard-hitting to tackle the issue.

Anyone caught littering can be issued with a £150 fine.

Councillor David Wood, cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services, said: “Since lockdown restrictions have eased, littering problems across our area have gone up. Our waste team and the volunteers who work hard to support us are fed up with picking up rubbish. It needs to stop now. Littering is illegal, anti-social, has a negative impact on our environment and costs thousands of pounds each year to clear.

“Our message is simple. Use a bin or take your litter home. We do not wish to upset anyone with the language we are using and hope residents will understand it is the littering that is offensive, and must be tackled robustly. Thank you to those volunteers who are helping to keep B&NES clean – especially during the pandemic.”

Last year more than 1,000 bags of litter were collected by the council, weighing around 3.5 tonnes.

The most common items littered in parks and open spaces include gas canisters, balloons, glass, disposable barbecues, plastic bottles, cans and bags of dog foul.

Initially the signs will be installed in the following locations: 


  • Keynsham Memorial Park – By the café/play park and at the exit to Station Road
  • The Shallows, Saltford – By the public toilets
  • Mead Lane, Saltford
  • Bird in the Hand – along the riverbank


  • Royal Victoria Park – The 3 Acre Piece (near the bandstand), Lower Exit to 3 Acre Piece near Marlborough Buildings, BBQ areas next to Botanic Gardens and park offices, Footpath near Cow Lane
  • Brock Street – By the recycling bins
  • Royal Avenue
  • Alexandra Park – By the viewing point
  • Alice Park
  • Parade Gardens
  • Pigeon Park and Lower Borough Walls

More information about how the council handles littering and enforcement can be found here https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/streets-and-highway-maintenance/litter-street-care-and-cleaning

NB. I get the campaign absolutely but for me using ‘tosser’ as a double entendre doesn’t sit easily with my sensibilities – and l am no prude – it’s a bit like the Lib-Dem’s ‘Bollox to Brexit’ campaign.

You are trying to clean the gutter with the language that lives there. Surprised you don’t refer to those who illegally ‘dump’ litter as ‘w..kers!’

1 Comment

  1. Being of a similar vintage, I winced slightly at ‘tosser’ – but we need everyone to wince and think. This is long, so skip to the last para if you want only my comment…!

    During lockdown, I have been walking much more often along the river and canal paths – which I have loved – and have taken to carrying a bag with me, to retrieve on my return journey anything that might have inadvertently dropped out of people’s pockets, and is not biodegradable and therefore potentially deadly to wildlife. I’ve loved becoming more aware of the life along the banks – herons, swans, moorhens, duck, gulls (much more acceptable on the water than on my roof!), innumerable birds. No sweat, and happy to have some bending exercise to keep supple.

    Since the easing of lockdown, and the explosion of litter, I’ve been wondering why and who. Having retrieved numerous cans and plastic bottles to recycle (mostly, I hasten to add, found in bags around overflowing bins, so people were trying…), I surmise that ‘they’ are younger, and of an age when they would ‘normally’ be gathering to socialise in pubs and clubs – where they consume and long-suffering bar staff tidy up after them. Hence the lack of awareness about ‘tidying up after yourself’. As with many societal challenges, it’s about education and educating early! I’d love to see pubs and clubs ACTIVELY encouraging people to return glasses, put crisp packets in designated bins, and leave tables ready for their next occupants. This may prove a challenge too far at time of socially distanced opening, but in the summer and outside would seem a good opportunity to try something of benefit to all.

    So, in short, I do think the notice is language appropriate, but could wish that the message was more strongly:

    Since you brought them with you – and they’re now gallons lighter!! – please take all containers of your festivities home, and RECYCLE them. Both humans and wildlife will benefit. Thank you.

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