Durham County Council has recently been awarded two prizes in the annual Keep Britain Tidy Awards. In a ceremony in Leeds on Thursday, the council received the prizes for Local Authority of the Year and Environmental Campaign of the Year.
The Keep Britain Tidy Awards reward councils, businesses and land use managers who make efforts to improve public spaces through campaigns, partnerships and other projects.
Durham County Council won the Local Authority of the Year prize thanks to initiatives such as establishing wildflower verges, recycling campaigns, and providing support to community ‘in bloom’ groups.
The Environmental Campaign of the Year award was won because of Durham’s anti-fly-tipping initiative Operation Stop It. Operation Stop It was launched in 2014 after the council had seen an increase in fly tipping of 40% in just one year.
Since it began, Operation Stop It has resulted in a decrease of 22% in fly tipping (equivalent to 3,494 fewer incidents) and saved £104,000 in rubbish disposal and clean-up costs. Durham County Council run the scheme in partnership with Crimestoppers, Durham Constabulary and the Environment Agency.
Operation Stop It seeks to inform individuals and businesses about the correct ways to dispose of waste and to prosecute people who dump rubbish illegally. In 2014-15, the council only managed to secure four fly tipping convictions. In 2015-16, 63 people were successfully prosecuted for this offence.
Oliver Sherrat, Durham County Council’s head of direct services, said, “We know how much our residents deplore fly tipping and we work very closely with both them and our partners to ‘stop it’ as much as we can.”
“The campaign has led to a major reduction in this environmental blight and everyone involved in winning this award can be rightly proud of themselves.”
In addition to Operation Stop It, a number of other schemes helped the council to win the Local Authority of the Year award. The Big Spring Clean project sees the council supporting communities that decide to organise their own litter picks. This project resulted in 145 litter picks last year, which collected 1,692 bags of rubbish.
The council’s Green Move Out scheme encourages students at Durham University to donate household articles to charity instead of throwing them away. Another initiative, It’s Your Neighbourhood, funds voluntary groups that want to enhance their local environments.
The leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, said, “We know the standard of entries for these awards is always very high.”
“This makes it all the more pleasing to win these awards from a respected national charity, and we’d like to thank our communities who work very closely with us to protect and enhance the environment.”
Terry Collins, Durham County Council’s chief executive, said, “We are absolutely delighted to have won these two awards.”
“We take our responsibility as guardian of our beautiful county very seriously and it is gratifying to receive national recognition for our efforts.”
Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, commented, “The work that Durham County Council and other local authorities do to improve our environment is superb.”
“I would like to congratulate Durham for its creativity, innovation and commitment to delivering quality services for its residents.”