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
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'