Keep Britain Tidy's proposal last week that fast-food outlets should pay an extra levy to keep the streets clean has met with resistance from the hospitality industry.
At a meeting in Newcastle, the group called for additional funds to be spent on cleaning up litter dropped by customers of "food-on-the-go" outlets in the North-east. It claimed the clean-up cost the taxpayer £450m a year, as well as contributing to the huge increase in rats.
But Rose Gorman from the Fenham Fish Bar in Newcastle said: "We already pay extra for our rubbish to be taken away, and people generally take their food home. We have two skips outside our shop to cope with the rubbish, and we pay extra for those too."
A Chinese restaurant owner, who did not wish to be named, added: "I think we pay enough money as it is. We pay 40% tax on what we earn and it's hard enough to make a living these days."
A Newcastle council spokesman said: "It would be contentious to penalise a business for the criminal acts of its customers. Larger companies such as McDonald's and Burger King do help already by installing bins and sometimes assist with cleaning."
McDonald's has signed up to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs voluntary code of practice on litter management and already has litter patrols outside its premises. A spokesman said: "We have a number of robust measures in place which form part of our day-to-day business to control litter within local environments."
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 27 January 2005