Story and photo by Amy Palmer
We’ve all noticed the litter piling up and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere clear to turn. On August Bank Holiday weekend one woman on Burngreave Road decided to make a stand. She has commissioned a painting on the side of her house, telling people to pick up their litter.
Jennifer Booth is an artist and from the inside of her tidy house filled with paintings and ceramics you could be in any neighbourhood but you only have to look out of the window at the overflowing bins, fly-tipped rubbish, and gutters edged in litter to know you are in Burngreave. Jennifer has litter pickers at the ready hung up outside her house. She tells me that she picked up bin bags full of litter just two days ago.
The final straw that encouraged her to turn her house into a billboard was when rats chewed through into her kitchen from the rented house next door. Her neighbours have been struggling with the rats for four months but are unable to get their landlord to stop fly tipping in their yard. Jennifer thinks slum landlords and overcrowding is a major factor in the spread of litter and t
he rats that follow but more factors include the irresponsible sales of alcohol to street drinkers, limited sweeping of the side streets, and sweepers not covering areas that lie between patches. All these areas are a result of government cuts.
Its getting to the point where people have stopped reporting rubbish. Jennifer says, “People are worn down. People know nothing happens.”
When asked what could be done if there was the money Jennifer said the streets should be swept regularly to show people that the authorities care and that there should be “less bureaucracy and more enforcement”. The lack of enforcement is particularly frustrating to those, including Jennifer, who have sent complaints along with photographic evidence to the authorities hoping the regular fly tippers will be stopped.
Meanwhile her house will be sporting a clear message by Philip Hadfield in the style of Russian constructivism; “Pick up your litter… It won’t kill you, but the rats might.”