Durham County Council has won two prizes at a national awards ceremony for its work in making County Durham a tidier place.
At the recent Keep Britain Tidy Awards, the council picked up the prize for Local Authority of the Year. And on top of that, Durham County Council’s anti-fly-tipping initiative, Operation Stop It, won the award for Environmental Campaign of the Year.
The Keep Britain Tidy Awards, which were handed out in Leeds on Thursday evening, aim to highlight the achievements of councils, private companies and local land managers in their efforts to improve public spaces through campaigns, partnerships and other innovations.
Durham scooped the Local Authority of the Year Award due to its work to protect the local environment. The council’s efforts include the establishment of wildflower verges, campaigns to encourage recycling, and support for ‘in bloom’ groups set up by local communities.
The council was also commended for taking action to stop a minority of people spoiling the environment for others, by – for example – using CCTV cameras.
Operation Stop It has led to a 22% drop in fly tipping in County Durham and saved over £104,000 in clean-up expenses.
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.”
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.”
Operation Stop IT was launched in September 2014 following a rise in fly tipping incidents of 40% in just two years. The campaign – which the council runs together with Crimestoppers, Durham Constabulary, and the Environment Agency – aims to increase awareness among residents and businesses about how to dispose of rubbish correctly and to bring those who break the law to justice.
Since it began, Operation Stop It has led to a decrease in the illegal dumping of rubbish which is equivalent to 3,494 fewer incidents of fly tipping.
In 2014-15, the council successfully prosecuted just four people for fly tipping. In 2015-16, there were 63 successful prosecutions.
Oliver Sherratt, Durham County Council’s head of direct services, said, “These two accolades help demonstrate what can happen when councils, communities and other partners work effectively together.”
“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.”
As well as Operation Stop It, a number of other schemes helped the council clinch the Local Authority of the Year accolade.
The Big Spring Clean, a project through which the council helps local residents and volunteers organise their own litter picks, led to 145 clean-ups last year, with 1,692 bags of refuse gathered.
The It’s Your Neighbourhood scheme gives funding to small groups of volunteers that wish to improve their local environments. The Green Move Out project encourages Durham University students to donate unwanted household items to charities rather than having them end up as waste.
Allison Ogden-Newton, the chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said, “I would like to congratulate Durham for its creativity, innovation and commitment to delivering quality services for its residents.”