THROUGHOUT the pandemic, so many of us have attached great value to the city’s parks, open spaces and seafront. The sight of rare wildlife and blooming flowers during lockdown and beyond have provided comfort to many as we grappled with the new Covid-19 challenges.

In a poll from the RSPB, 81 per cent agree the pandemic has shown the importance of protecting and restoring nature.

One downside to the increase in people using our outdoor spaces as we have come out of lockdown in the hot weather, has been the huge increase in antisocial behaviour and litter. As the new political leadership for the council, we’ve heard from residents that they’re concerned, and we agree.

The growth in antisocial behaviour happening all over the country has even seen Vera Baird, the Victims Commissioner, writing to government ministers calling for action in tackling the surge.

I’ve taken to the streets myself to address the issue and used my daily exercise throughout lockdown to help curb the litter in the part of the city I represent, Brunswick and Adelaide.

This is something I’ve always done, working alongside residents and campaign groups like Surfers Against Sewage, but during lockdown it was something I did more than ever before. Many people in our city also volunteer to help keep their area tidy and I want to thank them for doing this.

Whether it’s a regular litter pick, being part of our Tidy Up Team or a one-off beach clean – your help ensures we can keep on top of the issue. But there’s an awful lot to do.

Earlier this month, Greens took forward a series of proposals to look at alleviating the litter problems. The council will now consider the possibilities of introducing a refund scheme, working closer with businesses to reduce waste at source. This will also help address the council’s pledge to reduce and eliminate where possible single-use plastic.

We are also writing to government for support to do more to help tidy our city. We have all seen deliveries which have been wrapped, often needlessly, in too much packaging and we want the government to help us consider introducing a levy for excessive packaging.

I have also been campaigning on the new phenomenon of protective masks and gloves dumped on the pavements and road and which inevitably make their way into the sea.

We have in effect a new double danger posed to our health and our environment by the inconsiderate dumping of protective equipment.

Sadly this new Covid-19 phenomenon adds to the existing eight million tonnes of plastic which ends up in our seas.

Earlier in the year, a plastic crisp packet manufactured 26 years ago was discovered on our beach as a haunting reminder that plastic does not breakdown in the sea.

As a city by the sea, we realise we must work to take extra care to address the problem. Working with seafront businesses we want to develop a pledge to manage waste responsibly, reduce the use of single-use plastics and investigate the use of compostable packaging.

Whether you work in the hospitality industry, you’re one of our independent retailers or welcoming friends back to Brighton and Hove, a tidy city centre is so important. As a city we have so much going for us... beautiful architecture and seafront, dazzling culture and live music, the warmest of welcomes to a vibrant bohemian place. But we are being let down by the untidiness of our city centre. If we are to attract the level of investment to help our local economy recover we need to look confident.

If you litter the parks or beach you should expect to be fined. It’s anti-social and ruins the environment. It’s up to us all to take litter to the nearest bin, or if it’s overflowing, bring it home. In the last four weeks, we’ve created a new hotline for residents to report graffiti to begin the tidy up our city centre deserves.

Everyone in the city can play their part in keeping our city tidy. To kick-start that process, I can announce that I will be inviting everyone in our city to take part, safely, in a city tidy up between September 14 and 28. This will coincide with the Great British September Clean, organised by Keep Britain Tidy. People from all backgrounds and communities are invited, whether you’re a business in the city, a resident, students, football fans or parents’ groups. More details to follow in the weeks ahead.

I want our city to be successful and confident, especially as we take the important steps to recovery from the pandemic, and cleaning up our city is an essential part of that.