Hampstead campaigner uses Youtube to tackle litter problem outside Royal Free Hospital

Linda Grove & Cllr Leila Roy campaign to clear rubbish outside Royal Free

Linda Grove & Cllr Leila Roy campaign to clear rubbish outside Royal Free - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A retired headteacher has used Youtube to call on the council to clean up its act and tackle a persistent litter problem outside the Royal Free Hospital.

Linda Grove claims patients and visitors at the Hampstead hospital are blighting the area by dropping rubbish – particularly cigarette butts – on the streets outside.

She has now taken to Youtube to upload a video highlighting the issue.

Mrs Grove, who set up the Abacus Belsize free school in Belsize Park in 2013, said: “The Royal Free has quite rightly banned smoking in its grounds, but the end result is that people go into Pond Street or Hampstead Green to smoke, and unfortunately many of them drop their fag butts onto the ground.

“It could be that they don’t want to put them in the bin for fear of starting a fire. Clearer signs and more designated bins for cigarettes could definitely help.”

Speaking in front of a pile of cigarette butts and discarded coffee cups, Mrs Grove directly addresses Camden Council’s assistant director for environment and transport in her video. She urges him to work with her and other residents to put a stop to the “culture of dumping”.

Mrs Grove, a Hampstead resident for 15 years, said the problem has become worse in recent years.

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She said: “Of course, it’s partly a question of personal responsibility, and it’s partly about educating people on how anti-social it is to drop litter. Various agencies need to work together. But I have contacted the council many times over the years and, whilst lip service has been paid, nothing has been done, which is why I made the video.”

Claire-Louise Leyland, leader of the Camden Conservatives, has backed Mrs Grove’s campaign.

Cllr Meric Apak, Camden Council cabinet member for sustainability and environment, said: “Dealing with littering is a priority for Camden. Our officers have worked with the Royal Free to ensure co-ordinated litter bin provision in and around the site. We’ll be reviewing litter bins in the general area, ensuring they have the facilities to deal with smoking related litter.”

A Royal Free Hospital spokesman said: “As part of our commitment to creating a pleasant, healthy environment for patients, visitors, staff, and the local community, smoking is banned across all Royal Free London grounds, including entrances, car parks and other open spaces.

“When the policy was introduced we installed extra cigarette bins at every entrance to the hospital’s grounds in order to keep the surrounding area clean and tidy.

“We continue to work with Camden Council to ensure we have coordinated cigarette and litter bin provision, as well as litter picking, in and around the site. This month we conducted a site visit with council officers to identify areas where bin provision and litter picking could be improved.”