A warning today that Auckland Council is getting tough on litter and research indicating Aucklanders appreciate that stance.
It comes in Mayor Len Brown's last major speech before leading an Auckland trade mission to Korea and Taiwan which starts tomorrow.
Speaking to the Keep Auckland Beautiful conference in Mount Albert, the Mayor said significant increases in penalties mean offenders now face a $400 fine for hazardous litter such as broken glass and jagged metal and for offensive litter such as rotting food or dirty nappies.
"These significant fines show we are finally getting serious about the damage litter and illegal dumping does to our communities and to our sense of civic pride," says the Mayor. "Some people might argue these fines are too tough, but the research shows most people back our tough stance.
"Forty-eight per cent of people surveyed thought a $400 instant fine for illegal dumping was fair and reasonable and 40 per cent thought it should be more.
"What I find interesting about these research findings is that Aucklanders clearly have little tolerance for littering - for citizens who put their own convenience or plain old laziness ahead of the public good and keeping our city clean and tidy."
"The Council gets around 17,000 litter complaints each year and the new solid waste bylaw provides one set of rules across the region, taking a pragmatic approach working with waste operators and event organisers."
The Mayor says this is just one of the ways Auckland Council has recognised community concern around the many threats to our natural heritage.
"The Auckland plan sets the aspirational target of zero waste to landfill by 2040 and back in June, we adopted Auckland’s first region-wide plan for tackling waste to reduce harm to the environment and to help keep Auckland beautiful.
"The Waste Management and Minimisation Plan is all about reducing the waste we throw in the bin, and about recycling and reusing more. In the short term, we want to tackle domestic kerbside refuse, and in the longer term, business and industrial waste. We want to aim high but also make sure we take people with us. In particular, the vulnerable must be protected and supported.
"Any changes will be made carefully over a period of four years. We have to be careful to balance our actions in terms of public-good, private-good and disposer pays. We all know consequences of getting that formula wrong.
The Mayor says another major focus for the council in this area is bringing an end to graffiti vandalism.
"To my mind, nothing undermines the pride people take in their neighbourhood than ugly graffiti. It is disheartening to see mindless vandalism sprayed on people’s property. Our new prevention plan delivers tougher standards across the city such as rapid 24-hour removal targets and just two hours for offensive tags. The graffiti team now operates seven days a week and will deliver proactive services such as education programmes and promoting volunteer projects like ‘Adopt-a-spot’.
"I do not buy for one moment the ‘street art’ defence mounted by apologists for this behaviour. There are plenty of examples of genuine community art - like the fantastic murals in Otara and Te Atatu and other places. Supporting community projects like this are a great way to bring colour and vibrancy to our city at the same time as curbing repeat offences in popular graffiti hot-spots.
The Mayor also acknowledged the work of groups like the Keep Auckland Beautiful Trust. "Council can only do so much - strategies and plans and incentives and enforcement are all vitally important but so is leadership and action at the community level.
"Conserving and protecting Auckland’s natural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations has never been more important.
"I am determined to see a new approach develop - where we understand, value and share the beauty of this place - where we invest in our natural heritage - and where we empower a collective stewardship across the community."
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