Westminster City Council – which controls much of central London – has voted itself new powers last night which could ban the capital’s two free newspapers from being distributed in the borough.
According to the council – around 20 tonnes of free papers end up as street waste every week in Westminster, and it costs the borough £111,000 a year to deal with rubbish.
In a statement the council said: ‘Months of negotiations with the publishers of the free evening newspapers, News International and Associated Newspapers, have so far failed to reach a financial agreement acceptable to both newspapers. Therefore the council has decided that if no agreement can be reached within the next month, it will be left with no choice other than to compel the freesheets by law to tackle their waste.”
If a voluntary agreement can’t be reached – the council has said it will bring in new rules requiring the publishers to acquire a permit to distribute.
Cllr Alan Bradley, Cabinet Member of Street Environment, said: “This proposal gives us the authority to forcibly tackle the issue of waste if the voluntary agreement fails. However, I hope both publishers will be eager to ensure that the voluntary agreement works and we will be monitoring its effectiveness closely.
“We simply cannot afford to let the problem of waste newspapers defacing our streets continue and our residents, businesses and visitors rightly expect the streets not to be left strewn with a mountain of discarded newspapers .We strongly believe that the publishers have a clear duty to ensure their product does not deface our city.”
The publishers have been given one month to agree to ‘a voluntary scheme where they run their own cleaning operation to ensure their waste does not deface the streets.”