London freesheets face ban in rubbish rowPublishers asked to deal with litter problem

24 January 2007

Two free London newspapers could be banned from some areas of the capital unless their owners agree to help with the mountain of waste the papers create.

Westminster City Council says discarded copies of London Lite and thelondonpaper are creating three tonnes of extra waste every day, a situation it described as ‘untenable’.

It has asked the papers' publishers, Associated Newspapers and News International, to help deal with the waste or face restrictions on circulation.

The council said it was considering invoking its powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 to ban the distribution of free literature in areas where they pollute the environment.

West End problem

Councillor Alan Bradley, cabinet member for street environment, said: ‘The problem is particularly acute in the West End, which should be a showcase for the capital given its importance for shopping, dining and entertainment. For residents, visitors and businesses to be greeted by the eyesore of piles of discarded newspapers in our streets is quite unacceptable.’

The council said it increased the number of newspaper recycling bins to 131 after the launch of the free evening newspapers last August.

The papers have a combined daily circulation of 800,000 and the council estimates that 3.2 million copies would be recycled through the bins over the year.

A spokesman said the council needed another 300 bins, and extra lorries and crews to empty them, at a cost of about £500,000 for the first two years. The annual running costs thereafter would be lower but still significant.

Recycling bins

Steve Auckland, managing director of London Lite, said Associated Newspapers had been working with a number of councils, including Westminster, for the last four months in an effort to solve the problem.

The paper ran regular advertisements encouraging readers to recycle their copy at home or use recycling bins in the city.

Distributors had also been told to tidy up at the end of their shift by picking up discarded copies off the street and out of normal litter bins and placing them in recycling bins.

A spokeswoman for News International said: ‘We have been working together with Westminster Council since the launch of 'thelondonpaper' and are now in further negotiations with them to resolve their current issues.’