`Smokers and drunks leaving trail of litter'.
SMOKERS, lazy fast food junkies and drunken youths are spoiling attempts to make England a clean country - because they will not stop dumping their litter, says a new survey out today.
In fact, of the 12,000 sites surveyed for the fourth Local Environment Quality Survey of England (LEQSE), over three quarters were strewn with cigarette butts, while drinks litter had risen by 65% and fast food rubbish by a massive 450% since 2001.
So it's not surprising then that council taxpayers in Yorkshire and Humberside alone are paying out almost pounds 50 MILLION each year to clean up litter.
The region had got to grips with fly-tipping, flyposting, leaves, weeds and graffiti.
But street litter, poorly maintained pavements and steps and grime around bus stops was slowing progress down.
The study - carried out by Keep Britain Tidy with money from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) - is designed to show people how clean, or messy, their local environment is.
Information on everything from litter and graffiti to fly-posting and the condition of public bins is collected from across the nation.
Alan Woods, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: "Back in 2001, even good citizens admitted to dropping rubbish, while problems such as graffiti and dog fouling were causing real concern to residents.
"Thankfully, campaigns and education messages have changed all that and we are seeing small improvements in our local environment.
"However, there remains a hardcore group that are utterly determined to raise two fingers to the rest of us.
"Fines and sanctions are clearly the only language these people understand - and if they refuse to ditch their dirty habits, that's exactly what they are going to get."
Indeed, new measures under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, which came in to force in June, have helped to close the loop on existing litter laws.
Minister for Local Environment Quality, Ben Bradshaw, said litterbugs could now expect fines of at least pounds 50, even if they were dropping chewing gum or a cigarette butt.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act has been warmly received by many councils, some of whom have promised to name and shame offenders.