The Third Leader: Rubbish solutions

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The Independent Online

Uplifting news from Ben Nevis: its slopes are now statelier following a litter-picking visit from Wales by Mr Robin Kevan, a retired social worker, after he'd heard about the mess it was in.

Mr Kevan thus follows in the footsteps of others who have decided something must be done and done it. One thinks of Florence Nightingale, Albert Schweitzer, Bob Geldof, Diana, Princess of Wales, and, of course, Lady Thatcher: who could forget her appearance in St James's Park in 1988, picking up bits of litter that had been carefully scattered by aides shortly before?

Not that I'm accusing Mr Kevan of stunt-mongering; he has form, being known as Rob the Rubbish in his home town of Llanwrtyd Wells, where he spends two hours every day at it.

But there are worries. I note that Ms Lynne Truss is against the practice, considering it eccentric, grubby, someone else's litter and someone else's job. I myself, taking a view of humanity somewhere between Dr Schweitzer and Lady Thatcher, don't quite see it as the best way to encourage people to pick up their own.

And has anybody worked out the health, safety and insurance implications if the nation is swept by Kevan copiers? All that stooping; risk of infection and self-impalation by that sharp stick? Exactly.

My principal concern, though, is that the Government will take an interest, and come up with one of its beloved bold, diverting, instant initiatives, particularly when there's the Singapore model available: "litter criminals" forced to pick up to 12 hours a day in distinctive bright yellow jackets. Stand by, St James's, once they've worked 90 days into it somewhere.