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‘Don’t be a tosser’: Aberdeenshire Council’s new litter posters provoke fury

Aberdeenshire Council 's'don't be a tosser' campaign posters
Aberdeenshire Council 's'don't be a tosser' campaign posters

New litter posters being introduced in Aberdeenshire have provoked fury amongst residents due to some “offensive” wording.

Aberdeenshire Council commissioned the posters which are emblazoned with Don’t Be a Tosser Take Your Litter Home and Pick Up Your Poo Don’t Be a Tosser.

After they posted this news online, it provoked an angry reaction from locals who questioned the use of the word ‘tosser’.

And one councillor has called for the posters to be withdrawn due to the offensive language used.

‘I’m not happy with the wording’

Stephen Calder

Stephen Calder, Peterhead south and Cruden representative, wants the council to cancel the planned display of the posters in parks and open spaces across the region.

He said: “As soon as the council posted them online, I received lots of negative comments from local people.

“I went back to council immediately and told them that I object to to my ward and residents being described as tossers.

“We are trying to tackle the litter and dog poo problem with local campaigners and volunteers and none of them were made aware that these posters were coming out.

https://www.facebook.com/AberdeenshireCouncil/posts/4204405236293575

“I am trying to get them withdrawn and I’m not happy about the wording, it’s like they are trying to be funny but it doesn’t work.

“The lack of co-ordination with local groups and councillors makes it seem like a slap in the face to them.

“I’m an anti-tosser.”

Posters

The posters were created to remind people to be mindful of the environment when they are out and about.

The local authority revealed that the thinking behind them was that despite the fantastic efforts of council staff, individuals and community groups who work tirelessly to keep Aberdeenshire clean, there are still many people who continue to leave rubbish in their towns, villages, and natural spaces.

However, community groups who help keep the region tidy were also annoyed by the lack of consultation undertaken by the council.

Theresa Ritchie, who volunteers with both Pick Up Peterhead litter picking group and Peterhead Civic Pride, revealed she was disappointed that they had not consulted about the posters.

Peterhead Civic Pride volunteer and leader Theresa Ritchie, pictured left with her daughter Rebecca, both working at Landale Road community garden.

She said: “We are supposed to work with the council to find a solution for litter locally but now they have launched this poster for Peterhead which nobody knew about.

“I don’t find it offensive, I’m just disappointed that they did not consult with us about this, the people who volunteer and have worked hard to clean up their area.

“We need to work together to solve it, and different solutions are needed for different region.

“The wording also isn’t great, imagine kids seeing the poster and then asking their teacher or parent what a tosser is.

“Our litter group has been going for nine years, and we have made our own posters locally before so they could have asked us about this.”

One Facebook commenter said: “Unprofessional and pathetically poor. If this is the standard of work from highly paid, supposedly ‘professional’ and supposedly ‘educated’ Council officials, then it’s an unfortunate sign of the low ebb to which the Council has fallen.”

Don’t be a tosser

Keep Britain Tidy poster

Aberdeenshire Council originally announced this littering campaign last August, with the words written over the background of art by Andrea Hall.

It has been adopted by a number of other councils across the UK, including Swansea, York and Suffolk.

Keep Britain Tidy also use the slogan as part of their campaign to stop motorists throwing rubbish out of their car window.

Australia and New Zealand ran similar initiatives to prevent littering.

Philip McKay, Head of Roads, Landscape and Waste Services at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “None of us can deny that dropped litter and dog fouling detract from our communities. It is something that we know is extremely frustrating to those of us who act responsibly. Numerous campaigns have been used over the years, with varied levels of success. The “tag line” in this campaign is not new, having first begun in New Zealand, and is used across the globe.

“While we are by no means the first to use this wording, it remains impactful, as we can see from the debate that has begun. I would much rather that the debate centred around the substantive issue of littering in our countryside and communities. However, any level of debate is helpful and we truly hope that this campaign will encourage anyone to think twice before tossing their litter.”

Other controversial advertising campaigns

A mammogram

Advertising campaigns are often controversial, as they sometimes need to be hard-hitting in order to really make a point.

The Pink Ribbon Foundation launched a campaign on social media in 2016 which led to them being censored for violating strict nudity policies.

They promoted the importance of breast screening and showed a diverse group of women each exposing a naked breast alongside the words ‘check it before it’s removed.

Users were encouraged to share the images through their accounts as quickly and far as possible before their inevitable deletion.

Drink-driving advertising campaigns have also proved controversial, with some even including victims of drink driving incidents.

As for product advertising, Irn-Bru found themselves in hot water for their Don’t be a Can’t campaign.

The advert shows a young man meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Asked by the father when the man is going to marry his daughter, he replies: “I can’t right now.”

He then asks his girlfriend if they can leave, and she refuses, to which he tells her: “Don’t be a can’t”.

Irn Bru were forced to issue an apology after the Advertising Standards Agency received a number of complaints.

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