Sunderland is certainly a place on the up with new developments being formed all over the city right now – but the problem of litter blighting the everyday lives of its residents is still there.
On a lunchtime walk around the city centre as part of our Clean Streets campaign, I saw numerous examples of food packaging dropped by people old enough to know better, and often with bins just yards away.
The issue is particularly evident near food shops, but despite plenty of bins with space in them to dispose of rubbish, some still opt for the easy option of chucking their items away irresponsibly.
There is no doubt that litter will probably always be an issue in any area, but we can all do our bit to make our city a cleaner, tidier and more welcoming place to live and work in.
Those we spoke to on the streets of Sunderland agreed that there is definitely room for improvement in a city which has just made the final five to be named the UK’s City of Culture in 2021.
Speaking in Crowtree Road, Brenda Smiles, 61, of Downhill, said: “I think the litter problem is terrible if I’m honest, it really is. It seems to have got worse in the last few years if anything.
But it isn’t just a problem with young people like a lot of them would say, you see older people doing it. You’d think they would have more sense.
“If you stand about for just a few minutes you see people dropping things on the floor.”
Business owners also say there is a frustration with the litter problem, and it has a knock-on effect on their working lives.
Kay French runs Sweet Thoughts sweet shop, in Blandford Street.
“Every week we seem to have a bad problem with litter out the back of the shop, without fail,” she said.
“We get a lot of food dumped and the smell is just horrendous. I don’t think people realise that it makes the situation with the seagulls a lot worse.
“You have to look at how many young people we have in the city centre now, because the amount of stuff left seems to be worse on the dinner break time.
“You also see people leaving cigarettes around and then thinking that it’s OK to put them in the businesses bins, but it isn’t.”
The Echo regularly receives letters from residents wanting the situation with rubbish to be better, with many describing incidents of litter dropping they have witnessed for themselves.
Edith Young was shocked to see piles of paper dumped in Waterloo Place, close to Sunderland Train Station.
“Yes it is a problem,” said the 81-year-old, who lives in Whitburn.
“I definitely think it affects how people look at the city from outside. People should be doing more themselves.
“I’ve seen with my own eyes people dropping stuff when they are right next to bins and you can’t believe how lazy they are.”
Pals Margaret Taylor, 70, and Norma Sowerby, 73, said piles of litter left around the city infuriate them both.
“It’s a big, big problem,” said Margaret, who lives in River Quarter, near High Street West. Down near some of the back lanes of the restaurants close to where I live, it’s horrendous. If I see that cigarettes have been left close to my place, I go out and pick them up, but you can’t do that all the time.”
Norma, of Downhill, added: “I don’t think you can say it’s just a problem in the city centre, it is all over Sunderland that it’s an issue.
“If something can be done to improve things then all the better."