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DUP's American-style anti-litter crusade is binned due to logjam

By Noel McAdam

A massive one-day clean-up event across Northern Ireland has been shelved thanks to the political stalemate.

But the DUP said the proposal - contained in its manifesto - can still happen if and when the Executive is restored.

It is based on a highly successful project in the United States, which has been credited with a major reduction in littering along roads.

Sparked by an extensive public education programme in the mid-1980s, authorities in Texas used in-depth research to identify and reach the worst offenders.

It includes an annual one-day clean-up event across the state, and estimates suggest litter along highways has been halved.

A DUP spokseman said its project - Don't Mess With Northern Ireland - ended up like "quite a few other things, which didn't have time to get off the ground before devolution was pulled down, something we'd still want to get an Executive back to take forward".

The campaign in America sparked an extensive public education programme 30 years ago. It utilised red, white and blue trash cans - which could prove controversial here - as well as the involvement of music and movie stars including Willie Nelson and Matthew McConaughey.

"The DUP wants to launch a campaign that aims to be as successful in NI," the party said.

"Northern Ireland public advertising led the way on changing public attitudes on issues such as drink-driving."

It comes against a backdrop of councils fighting a losing battle against litter, even though they are spending more each year to combat the problem.

One in seven public parks and streets is falling short on littering despite the fact funding to tackle the scourge has increased by 8%, a recent survey for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful revealed.

The organisation claims the amount being spent equates to an annual charge of £58 for every ratepayer.

Chris Allen, who managed the survey, said: "It's clear from the data that councils are struggling to keep pace with people's irresponsible habits.

"They're being forced to spend a totally unsustainable amount of ratepayers' money - our money - on treating an entirely preventable problem."

However, the issue of dog fouling shows signs of improvement.

Sites where dog fouling occurred diminished by an average of 11% from 2011-15 to 6% last year.

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