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
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Consultant – Building Management

up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Senior Industrial Energy Consultant

Up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Mechanical Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal