Amnesty for hosepipe owners as drought bites

A Hand in Your Hose campaign is being launched in parts of the country where the ban will come into effect later this week

UPDATE: Check the date!

The worst drought for three decades is forcing the Government to call for Britain's gardeners to hand in their hosepipes under a nationwide amnesty, The Independent on Sunday has learnt.

People living in areas where the ban comes into force on Thursday are to be given the opportunity to surrender garden hoses at local police stations. Water providers have already set up phone lines so that people can report neighbours who flout the ban, but now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked the police to set up "hosepipe bins" at stations for people to deposit their sprinklers and hoses.

The Government hopes the "Hand in Your Hose" campaign will help to build compliance with the ban and remove the water-guzzling devices from gardens permanently in regions which are most vulnerable to drought, such as the South-east. Anybody caught watering their lawns and flowerbeds or filling paddling pools with a hosepipe after 5 April could face a £1,000 fine.

The singer and award-winning garden designer Kim Wilde, who is fronting the Hand in Your Hose campaign, said: "I love gardening but if we don't all do our bit when the hosepipe ban comes in we'll be facing a serious crisis. Handing in your hose to the police removes temptation and sets a good example to your neighbours."

A pilot scheme was being trialled yesterday in Kingston-upon-Thames. By midday a queue had already formed on the steps of the police station, as people prepared to hand over a variety of watering and sprinkling systems. Jo Cobley, 42, was waiting with her son Daniel, eight, and her 30m Maxi Pro Hozelock. "It seems a shame because I love my hose," she said, "but it makes sense to hand it in when you've got kids because they might play with it when you're not looking." In return, they were being given a free "I've piped down!" badge.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police's Kingston Safer Neighbourhood team said: "We know that every time there is a hosepipe ban there will always be people who think it's not their problem. Running out of water is no laughing matter. We hope gardeners will take this opportunity to hand in their hoses without fear of reprisals and remove temptation from their backyards."

Just a few hours earlier at the nearby Addison Garden allotments, keen vegetable growers were giving their crops a last water before handing in their hoses. Joan McConn, 65, said she would do so reluctantly. "They've said that anyone caught with a hose can be kicked off the allotments. There are a lot of snitches and giving it to the police means you can't be accused of anything."

One member of the allotment society, who wished to remain anonymous, said she planned to flout the ban. The 81-year-old added: "I paid £29.99 for this jet hose and I'm not going to hand it over to the police just because Thames Water can't stop their pipes leaking."

All hosepipes collected by the authorities will be stored in a secure unit until winter. Those wanting their pipes back will be able to apply in writing from 1 November.

Waterworks

* The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that every year the average British household with a garden uses enough water through its hosepipe to fill more than three Olympic-sized swimming pools. In Kent, known for being the "Garden of England", the national average is almost doubled.

* A recent study undertaken by the Environment Agency indicated that, given the choice, 27 per cent of UK residents would rather go without a shower for a week than forgo the use of their hosepipe for the same period.

* During the last hosepipe ban in 2010, Thames Water received a total of 309 calls from individuals wishing to inform on their neighbour's illicit hosepipe use. The most common complaint, accounting for nearly a quarter of all calls, was over the unlawful use of ornamental fountains.

* UK companies specialising in the retail of sprinklers and other garden-watering equipment are estimating net losses of more than £10m per week. Should the ban continue over a period of months, this could result in several of the smaller companies going into liquidation. However, the sales of buckets, used to collect rainwater, have soared.

* The RSPCA has issued a warning over the welfare of outdoor fish during the hosepipe ban. Figures show that the 2010 ban was responsible for the death of at least six koi carp as a result of owners being unable to use a hosepipe to top up their ponds.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Inspection Inventory Clerk

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a fast growing in...

Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV & HGV Mechanics

£29000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV Mechanics & HGV mechani...

Recruitment Genius: Reprographics Operator

£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...

Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee