London 'cleanest capital in Europe': Minister defends result of a survey by the Tidy Britain Group that will surprise some, reports Helen Nowicka

LONDON is the cleanest capital city in Europe while Athens is the dirtiest, according to a survey published yesterday by the Tidy Britain Group.

In a result that will surprise many Londoners, the city was found to be better cared for than Paris, Amsterdam or Berne, winner of the last such study.

The survey's suggestion that Paris has the dirtiest shopping area was met with laughter at the office of the city's mayor, Jacques Chirac. A spokeswoman said: 'Last week we heard about another survey which said we were the cleanest city in Europe. We would rather believe that one.'

London finished on top after researchers for the Tidy Britain Group examined litter levels and environmental problems in tourist areas of nine European capitals, awarding points for cleanliness. In each city they compared conditions on a busy shopping street, around parliament buildings, in a major railway station with European destinations, and at an open-air tourist attraction.

They found less refuse around the Palace of Westminster than any of its Continental equivalents, while Victoria station and the surrounding area won the railway terminus category for cleanliness.

Trafalgar Square was named as joint second-cleanest tourist site, tying with Amsterdam's Dam Square and the Grosserstern roundabout in Berlin. First place went to the bear pit in Berne.

The Swiss capital also won the award for the cleanest shopping area, Bahnhof Platz, with Oxford Street west of Oxford Circus a close second. In general, London was praised for the general absence of fly-posting, dog fouling and overflowing bins - factors which proved decisive in the city narrowly surpassing Berne to claim first place overall.

By contrast, Athens had the grimiest railway station, the most rubbish around its parliamentary complex and the dirtiest tourist attraction - Syntagma Square.

The shopping street containing the most litter was the Boulevard Haussman in Paris, while Amsterdam had the worst incidence of graffiti and Madrid the highest level of dog fouling.

Announcing the results, Professor Graham Ashworth, director- general of the Tidy Britain Group, acknowledged the study had only examined 'visitors' London' and conceded Britain is far from litter- free. 'There are still significant problems which we continue to address. However, the survey does show that we are cleaner than our European neighbours,' he said.

Yesterday, a random sample of Londoners and visitors to the city were sceptical that pristine conditions around tourist sites were representative of the capital.

Shawn Bowmen, a security guard who works opposite the House of Commons, said: 'I start at 6am and there are always a couple of cleaning patrols in the morning. Where I live, in Stepney Green in east London, it's a different situation - it's just a mess.'

Carole Ennis, a civil servant of Tonbridge in Kent, agreed that the area around Whitehall was well maintained. 'But you don't have to go far before it changes, if you walk up the Strand or along to Victoria there's a lot more litter.'

However, Jutta Jaenecke, an artist who divides her time between Berlin and London, thought the British city a worthy winner. 'Berlin is a lot more scruffy, I'm not surprised London came first,' she said.

John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment and the minister with responsibility for London, said people who were reluctant to believe the survey's findings were being unfair.

'It is our habit to believe that we are not as good as other people. It is time we took the view which other cities have and praise our successes,' he said. 'This has finally scotched the idea that London is a dirtier place than other major European cities. That idea grew up because we were much less clean than we are now.'

The rankings for the nine cleanest cities, in descending order, are: London, Berne, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Rome, Madrid and Athens.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
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 apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Asset Finance Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - ASSET FINANCE - An outstanding...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Assistant Marketing & PR Manager

£16 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment