When I come out of my home in Belgravia in the morning to go to the House of Commons it is very clear where much late night activity has taken place.
Westminster Council has now followed the example of New York and introduced laws to control licensed premises and night cafes to keep the frontage of their premises clean and litter free during their hours of operation.
But once again it is sad that there has had to be recourse to laws to ensure businesses take a pride in our city rather than they themselves see the value in keeping the streets of London clean and attractive.
It is estimated that more than a million people come into central London every day. Maintaining cleanliness in the face of such a horde is a mammoth task but it is one that all of us can be part of.
Reducing paper and packaging, reusing materials and recycling products are getting easier. Many organisations will collect items for reuse freely from homes. Micro recycling centres are growing in number throughout Westminster and with the activities of the IRA suspended (one doesn’t dare say finished) we have more litter bins again.
But there are never enough. Sadly people will throw their rubbish anywhere and so there will always be plenty of activity for the Council’s clean-up forces. Keeping this city clean is not often mentioned as a major preventative measure against the growth in crime in the capital but in my opinion it is vital.
Following the recent visit of New York’s ex-Mayor Rudolph Guiliani many comparisons between London and New York crime statistics have been drawn in the press.
As a result Londoners have been making their voices heard strongly in all parts of the media and in my postbag that London should adopt the zero tolerance approach to muggers, beggars, graffiti artists, prostitutes, casual drug users and street livers as developed in New York under Guiliani.
Unfortunately there is often not the same level of enthusiasm towards keeping the streets rubbish-free as putting more police on the beat. But there is much research that shows that a clean environment has a positive effect on stopping crime.
To a visitor graffitti often means that there is no control. Dirty streets reflect lack of care. People seen sleeping rough means there is no law. They all sow the seeds of social anarchy.
As I say I live in Belgravia. None of the above occurs in my street. But I am just 400 yards from Victoria Coach station and Victoria Railway station and the sense of lack of care and lack of control around these termini is so obvious.
They are businesses. And like the earlier mentioned businesses I believe they have a responsibility to keep both their own premises and their surroundings as clean and safe for both the travellers that use them and the passers-by.
If Ken Livingston wants to charge car drivers to come into London he might do better to consider initiating a gate toll on commuters and pedestrians as well to help keep the city clean and safe for everybody to enjoy. Alternatively we might just encourage a zero tolerance approach to litter and rubbish. Westminster Council has started the process by bringing out laws against businesses now it is up to us to take it onto the citizens thelmelseves.
The result would be a firm reduction in criminal activity.