A ROW has broken out after the county council said Ledbury people could tackle a widespread litter problem themselves.

Herefordshire Council's contractor Balfour Beatty said it would give "the appropriate kit" for unpaid, voluntary clean ups after complaints about litter on the bypass and the Marcle Road.

The contractor said it currently carries out annual litter picks on A and B roads but this once a year approach is under review because of budget cuts.

But Ledbury's mayor, Cllr Annette Crowe, called the response "absolutely appalling".

She added: "I think its absolutely ridiculous that Balfour Beatty expects members of the public to pick up litter, when it is Balfour Beatty's duty to do it.

"We are coming up to the tourist season, and the surrounds of the town look like a tip."

Cllr Crowe, who suggested that rubbish in transit had perhaps been blowing off the top of skips, has already complained to Balfour Beatty about the level of rubbish on Ledbury bypass and elsewhere, and she intends to complain again.

People have also complained to her, including Ledbury Rotary Club member, Jan Long, who recently decided to "Clean for the Queen" along Ledbury bypass and was appalled by what she found.

Mrs Long said: "I bought a few bags and started to collect, half way along this 'grot spot' and after filling four black sacks, I lost the will to carry on picking up all manner of rubbish which others had discarded.

"It is utterly shameful."

Ledbury bypass is not the only problem area.

A Much Marcle resident, who has asked not to be named, has been carrying out her own clean up near the village.

She said that even old green sandbags had been dumped on the roadside recently, and she added: "From Much Marcle to Ross is terrible. You could collect enough rubbish to make a bed of it.

"It is terrible".

She added: "I do think it is the duty of the public not to chuck litter out in the first place, but Balfour Beatty ought to kick in and help, when it is so bad."

A Balfour Beatty spokeswoman said: "We are dedicated to keeping the county clean and tidy; as such, known areas for littering are currently being reviewed for the frequency of litter picking activities and we continue to work closely with community groups who organise volunteer litter picking groups."

With a direct appeal for community help, she added: "As there is an increased focus on cost-saving initiatives due to budget restraints, we ask members of the public to be aware of dropping litter and ask them to dispose of it appropriately.

"Should any members of the public wish to conduct litter picking within their community, please contact 01432 261800 and we will provide them with the appropriate kit to do so where we can."