ONE of the most inspiring stories of recent days has to be that of five-year-old Oliver Jackson.

After enjoying the Northumberland Live festival, the youngster was dismayed by the amount of litter left behind. He asked an organiser for a bin bag and set to work collecting cans, chip trays, sweet and crisp packets.

Three tonnes of litter was removed from the venue in Blyth, a fraction of that left at Glastonbury.

The sight of the fields at Glastonbury appals me. The clean-up was estimated to cost £785,000 and last six weeks but due to dry weather, the festival underwent its fastest ever clean-up, with cows returning to the main field a week after it ended.

Whether it be Glastonbury, Leeds or any festival, I don’t think anyone should clean up after revellers, many who leave every single item, including their tent. They should be made to do it themselves. It is not a good lesson for young people - no wonder many seem to think it is their right to have others tidy up after them.

A friend’s daughter has a summer job clearing out student houses for a letting agency. She said some leave so much mess they lose their deposits, but don’t care. She said many had not even emptied bins in their rooms, which were overflowing with rubbish, including rotting food.

When I was young we were encouraged to take responsibility for our litter. On school camping trips we would have to pack whatever we had brought in our rucksacks and take it home - rubbish included.

I would never, ever dump rubbish. No matter where I am, if I have an empty crisp packet or can, I go out of my way to find a bin or take it home.

Of course littering is not confined to the young. It extends to people of all ages and something should be done to change attitudes.

When I travel on motorways and A-roads in this country I am embarrassed. I often wonder what MPs, and, in particular, the Prime Minister, think as they are chauffeured up and down. Are they so busy poring over manifestos that they don’t notice the sea of rubbish on verges?

If I were in charge, I’d put anti-littering signs on bridges and make efforts to trap offenders in the same way we do speeding cars. I would also raise fines. Clamping down would save a fortune in clean-up bills.

Friends who have visited countries like Germany, Sweden and Switzerland say there is barely any litter. The problem here is that dropping litter is accepted as the norm and there is an outcry when so-called ‘litter police’ impose fines on people for throwing down cigarette ends.

I am glad that private security guards are patrolling the streets of Bradford from today, doling out fines to litterbugs. The ‘zero tolerance’ approach will also see littering fines increase. The Council’s environment boss has warned of a tougher stance which is great news.

On a visit to the Lake District, we found rubbish stuffed into cairns, and in Whitby discarded fishing gear lies washed up on rocks near the pier. The latter has been there for months, so why doesn’t someone move it?

When we see someone dropping litter, we tend to turn a blind eye. My sister recently ran after a car in London after a man threw a tissue out of the window. After initially denying it, he took the tissue back from her. I would not recommend this risky form of intervention, but often there is no other way.

Litter not only blights the countryside, it is a hazard to wildlife. It needs to be taken far more seriously.