A cleaner, greener borough

The Big Clean Up!

In September 2017 the council launched a ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’ campaign, encouraging people to work with us to improve the areas where they live. As a part of this, we are also asking local people to ‘Love Clean Streets’.

Last year we collected almost 7,000 tonnes of litter and detritus. We want to work with residents to keep areas clean and that means asking you not to drop litter, fly tipping or post graffiti.

In October 2017, we launched our first Big Clean Up event – a series of activities when council officers, volunteers, partners, councillors and staff went out into the borough to tidy areas up.

Since then, a total of five Big Clean Ups having taken place - with more and more volunteers and partners getting involved, and more rubbish being collected.  

Our thanks to everyone who has taken part so far and to all of our partners for hosting events.

You can read more about what we did by checking our news stories on:

And now Big Clean Up 7 is here!

Big Clean Up 7

As part of our latest drive to help keep the borough clean and tidy, we are calling on volunteers to lend a hand between Monday, 8 April and Monday, 15 April 2019.

The Big Clean Up 7 coincides with Keep Britain Tidy's Great British Spring Clean, so there's never been a better time to roll up your sleeves and lend a hand.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs and Jim Fitzpatrick MP will host a Big Clean Up in Poplar on Tuesday (9 April) from 12noon to 2pm, and you're encouraged to come along and join in. We'll be meeting at the Chrisp Street Market for a safety briefing before getting underway. All you need to do is wear comfortable, warm and weather-appropriate clothing and footwear - and everything else you need will be provided. Hope to see you there!

Big Clean Up 7 events include:

  • Tuesday 9 April, 12pm: Chrisp St, near market entrance, E14
  • Wednesday 10 April, 10am: Arnold Circus bandstand, E2
  • Sunday 14 April: Columbia Road Flower Market, E2

Big Clean Up sessions are hosted by a range of partnership organisations, community groups and residents - if you'd like to host and event or coordinate a group of neighbours take part, we'd love to hear from you.

So far, The Big Clean Up events have welcomed 540 helpers at more than 60 events since late 2017 – our colleagues in the green and clean team remove 7,000 tons of rubbish from the borough’s streets each year – that’s a ton per kilometre!

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “Our Big Clean Ups are going from strength to strength. It’s great to see so many volunteers doing their bit to help make the borough a cleaner place for us all to enjoy. We spend in the region of £6 million per year collecting litter but as the fastest growing borough in the UK, we simply don’t have infinite resources to pick up every piece of litter.”

To register to come along, to host an event, or to find out more, please email communications@towerhamlets.gov.uk or let us know on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #TheBigCleanUp.

Street cleansing

It is the council’s responsibility to ensure that all the streets in the Borough are kept clean and safe. Street Cleansing operations are carried out by Veolia on behalf of the council.

Streets are cleaned under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  There are set schedules for the streets to be cleaned, but they also are expected to be kept at an acceptable standard outside of the schedules. 

Street cleansing includes emptying of all litter bins, reporting damaged bins and street furniture, removal of all litter, dirt, dust, leaves.

The council aims to return any street reported as being dirty to an acceptable level of cleanliness within 24 hours.

Love Your Neighbourhood app

You have the power to improve your neighbourhood with the Love Your Neighbourhood app. Replacing the previous FiFiLi app, Love your Neighbourhood has a refreshed design and multiple new features. 

Available for download on  Google Play and the app the App Store, you can improve your neighbourhood at the touch of a button:

  • report any issues you think needs our attention
  • receive updates on any request sent in through the app
  • share anything you love in Tower Hamlets
  • find out about the air quality for your area and all about our Breathe Clean campaign
  • check your waste and recycling collection times and find out location details of all recycling banks in Tower Hamlets
  • see all kinds of events happening in the borough
  • get information on road closures and layout changes
  • have your say on what happens in Tower Hamlets through consultations
  • follow us on social media and sign up to newsletters

available_on_the_app_store_badge_us-uk_135x40_0824 . Google Play logo

Big Belly Pilot gets underway!Brick Lane bin

Smart bins called Big Belly Bins have been installed in Tower Hamlets. The bins have the ability to self compact to reach a greater storage of litter and can store up to 5 times the normal capacity of a standard litter bin. A total of nine bins have replaced existing public litter bins in high footfall areas. 

You can find a Big Belly bin in the following areas:

  • Aldgate East Station

  • Bethnal Green Station

  • Bow Road Station

  • Mile End Station

  • Altab Ali Park

  • Victoria Park Crown Gate West

  • Brick Lane Junction of Fashion Street

  • Brick Lane Junction of Old Montague Street

  • Whitechapel High Street Junction of New Road.

How you can get involved

Find it, Fix it Team

The Find it, Fix it service will tackle eyesores across the borough. In rapid response vehicles, the teams identify and fix problems such as littering, graffiti, fly posting, overhanging vegetation and fly tipping. Residents can report problems, including littering, for the Find it, Fix it team via Streetline on 020 7364 5000.

Volunteering and community clear-upslitter picking volunteers

Become a Clean and Green volunteer or get assistance with community clean up projects and local litter picks via the council volunteer coordinator, Sam Dundas-Dunbar. Tel 020 7364 6696, email cgv@towerhamlets.gov.uk or visit the clean and green volunteering page.


There are over 150 managed parks and open spaces in Tower Hamlets. The parks are maintained and cleaned by the newly formed Green Team. Visit the parks pages to find out more about the great parks and open spaces.

Play your part, report it

The council’s customer contact centre is available for you to:

  • ask questions about street cleansing or litter

  • report dirty streets; overflowing litter bins; graffiti, chewing gum and dumped rubbish

Report a need for street cleaning

Grass verges

Grass verges adjacent to roads, other than trunk roads and red routes, are considered public highway and therefore fall under the responsibility of the council and the Highway Authority.

Grass verges on trunk roads and red routes fall under the responsibility of the Greater London Authority and are maintained by Transport for London.

In fulfilling its responsibilities as Highway Authority, the council is required to keep and maintain verges safe and unobstructed. This is particularly important at road junctions where clear visibility for motorists and pedestrians is important.

Litter, abandoned vehicles and fly tipping on road verges generally falls to the council to collect and remove.

Grass cutting

The council cuts grass so that people can use roads and pavements safely. Grass cutting is undertaken for highway safety reasons and to maintain an attractive environment.

What grass won't the council cut?

We do not cut grass that is:

  • privately owned

  • on properties/estates owned by bodies other than the council

  • located on Red Routes and trunk roads (these are the responsibility of Transport for London)

What will the council cut?

We will cut grass on all council-owned land, for example:

  • other highways

  • verges

  • public open space

  • schools

  • parks

  • churchyards maintained as public open spaces

  • memorial gardens

How often do we cut the grass?

The council cuts the grass it owns as often as is necessary. Due to the relatively mild conditions that exist in the inner-city, grass is often cut on amenity areas. 


Keep your scene clean by taking your litter home or using a litter bin. Do not throw rubbish onto pavements, roads or on public open spaces. Be considerate of others.

Littering makes an area look down at heel and can contribute to the fear of crime and the council spends a considerable sum to ensure the borough’s streets are kept clean. Littering is a constant problem we can do without. Litter can be anything from a sweet wrapper or cigarette butt to a bag of rubbish. The size does not matter. Typical littered items are cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, crisp packets, apple cores, drinks cans and plastic bags.

If your street is badly littered you may report it by calling the Customer Contact Centre on 020 7364 5000.

Litter enforcement

An offence is committed if someone throws down, drops or otherwise deposits anything in any place (including over water) that is open to the air and to which the public have access.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 specifically included cigarette butts and chewing gum and their wrappings in the definition of litter.

If you are seen littering in the street you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice (FPN) of £80 by a Street Care officer. The FPN is issued so that you may discharge your liability for prosecution by paying the penalty and knowing you will not receive a criminal record. However, if you do not pay the FPN, the case will go to court.

The maximum fine for littering is £2,500.

Further information

Related services