Elected members get tough on tossers (of litter…)

The Honourable NIGEL DOLLERY is no mere tosser of throw-away insults when it comes to litter. He used plain English to give his response after legislative councillors voted to review St Helena’s anti-littering laws, and enforce them. These were the actual words of his adjournment debate speech (slightly edited). 

I recently had an interesting experience. I was sat on a step, looking across the road. I saw about four or five pieces of litter – bottles and cans. They were about 15 foot from a rubbish bin. I then went into Grumpy Old Man mode.

The idle tossers could not be bothered to clean up behind themselves.

For those who might have doubts about the use of the word “tosser”, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, it means a contemptible person. Contempt is feeling that someone is worthless or beneath consideration: a bit harsh, but I am happy with it.

Tosser seems a reasonable word for a person who tosses their litter in the expectation that another will clear up behind them. Why did they not put their litter in the bin?

I then went into adult mode. There is some litter: some drunk or thoughtless or uncaring person left it there but I could sort it out. I walked over, put it in the bin. I showed myself not to be a tosser so was content.

I do not need to boast further, but I will. I stopped between Model Cottage and the stables to pick up an abandoned pizza box.

So what? Well, I saw a comment in the paper about how councillors should take a lead on our very real littler problem. I then saw the light. All it takes is all of us who are not tossers and who care about our island to pick up any litter we see and put it in the nearest bin.

I believe the Honourable Speaker already does this, leading by example. This would be a real start in getting rid of the litter left by the tossers. It would make a difference. Not an enormous one but it would be a start.

Do not do what I did the first time round, which is to be grumpy and blame anyone I could.

Do not try and shift the responsibility on to any group: parents, teens, drunks, prisoners, the uncaring, St Helena Government and its officials, or our the councillors. I dealt with the bit I saw and will always try to adopt that approach.

What this approach means is that any real blighted areas will start to stand out. Then there is something to investigate and deal with, only using the law if necessary.

So do not be a tosser. Pick up rubbish when you see it. Thank you.

  • In his closing speech to the adjournment debate, chief secretary Roy Burke said that he personally was not a… what the councillor said. “I have great sympathy with the Honourable Nigel Dollery’s problem,” he said. “I live very close to him and quite often pick up litter myself, so I am not one of those people he referred to earlier… without using the word.”
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