Clause 99 - Abandoned shopping and luggage trolleys

Part of Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 27 January 2005.

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Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:30, 27 January 2005

I start by underlining the importance of the clause. We have focused particularly on abandoned trolleys—the hon. Lady referred to other items that may cause a nuisance in some circumstances—because they cause a particular nuisance, as has been reflected in the views of a number of my hon. Friends who want this provision pursued with some vigour. Abandoned trolleys reduce the visible quality of our streets and public places; they cause a hazard, often to traffic; when dumped in watercourses, they can cause flooding by obstructing the water flow; and they may also cause harm to wildlife. I have seen the impact of all those difficulties in my constituency, as I know many of my hon. Friends have in theirs.

The change is needed because, although local authorities have powers to deal with abandoned shopping trolleys, they often cannot recover the cost from the trolley owner. The clause will enable them to do so, even if the trolley owner does not reclaim the trolleys. The hon. Lady rightly says that some retailers take a responsible interest in protecting their property and not letting it become abandoned and a nuisance to others, but not all retailers are as good as the best and we want to encourage them to be so.

The change is necessary to encourage local authorities to deal more effectively with the problem of abandoned trolleys. Local authorities may be reluctant to remove them when they are contributing to poor local environmental quality, because they do not know whether they will be able to recover the cost   of doing so. The measure will also encourage retail businesses to take greater responsibility for their property. I believe that it will give an additional push towards greater partnership, rather than undermining partnership. I meet the British Retail Consortium regularly, having for many years been a member of the all-party group on the retail trade, so I am well aware of some of these issues and of the BRC's interest in ensuring that it works effectively with local authorities. We want to encourage that, not make it more difficult.

I know that the BRC was worried about the charges that local authorities will fix to be paid under schedule 4. I assure the Committee that we will deal with that issue in guidance, with local authorities providing information about the charges to be made. Therefore, I hope that the clause will have the strong support of the whole Committee.