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
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Front of House Team Member

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This strategic outsourcing and energy se...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen