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The Big Farce

October 8, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Doncaster council has become one of the newest members of The Big Tidy-Up campaign, an anti-litter initiative launched by Keep Britain Tidy. The scheme enjoyed something of a heyday throughout September with a number of events aimed at increasing public awareness of pressing environmental issues. Unfortunately, despite the publicity surrounding the campaign, the local council persists in demolishing housing estates, creating desolate areas plagued by gangs, unlicensed motorcycles, and piles of litter and debris.

Edlington and Hyde Park are two small suburbs on the outskirts of Doncaster. The former was once home to the biggest coal mine in Great Britain but its population is declining rapidly owing to the demolition of two of its larger housing estates. Doncaster council has vexed countless residents by refusing to develop the brown-belt land left in the wake of house clearance, with some landowners blasting the scheme as a major contributor to anti-social behaviour.

The Big Tidy Up is an admirable venture but one that is not going to gain any popularity beyond primary school classrooms unless its ultimate goals become less cosmetic and more visible in the community. At present, the scheme manifests itself as a thin veil over more important issues. The decision not to extend the campaign to local woodland tracks in dire need of maintenance, for example, may prove lethal.

The Doncaster Free Press has reported that the total cost of estate demolition is around the £14 million mark, approximately thirteen times more than the site is worth to developers. The council is haemorrhaging cash under the guise of regeneration and an insistence on creating the perfect haven for commercial entities. This revelation comes only a week after it was discovered that the local airport (Robin Hood) is not financially viable. The Big Tidy Up campaign appears to be the metaphorical equivalent of putting a plaster on a severed leg: unless the big issues are addressed first, recycling and encouraging people to dispose of their litter properly is going to do nothing to preserve the local environment.

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