Street care & cleaning

Here you will find information about street care and cleaning in Northumberland.

The latest information about maintenance work carried out by the council and how this is operating during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

This information was last updated on 11 March 2022.

We will continue delivering our street cleansing and winter grounds maintenance program to keep our country clean, green and safe. 
Remember - To keep everyone safe please keep social distancing with our teams - so please keep away from our teams if you see them working - and we'll do likewise.
The council's neighbourhood environmental action teams (NEAT) are responsible for keeping public roads and pavements in Northumberland clear of litter, leaves, grit and debris.

There is a regular programme of cleansing of the highways, pavements and other council-owned areas, working to a priority system. Residents are invited to contact the council to report issues of heavy littering, dumping or spillages.
The council provides a number of services to create a pleasant environment for residents and visitors.

Neighbourhood services, in partnership with some town and parish councils, provide horticultural features in our town centres, parks and gardens. A programme of shrub pruning and maintenance is undertaken on a three-yearly cycle.
Weed killing is performed from April to October each year. The chemical herbicide used is based on Glyphosate, which has been subject to extensive testing and regulatory assessment in the EU, USA and by the World Health Organisation.

The council only uses products approved and licensed for amenity use.  These products are considered to be relatively non-toxic to dogs and other domestic animals.  However, if you are concerned as to the welfare of your pet then contact your veterinarian.
The council’s grass-cutting operations commence from the beginning of April until the end of September, depending on conditions. The grass is cut around once every 14 days during this period.

The council cuts grass in some housing estates, parks, schools, highway verges and open spaces throughout the county, as well as in out-of-town amenities and country lanes.

Additional cuts may be requested by town and parish councils and housing companies in October and March. If a member of the public is particularly concerned about grass on footpaths, they can report the problem below or ring customer services on 0345 6006400.

Report an issue with grass cutting online

We do not collect grass cuttings, except on plots within elderly people’s residential developments.
Here is a list of all Northumberland County Council maintained public conveniences, including disabled access and baby changing facilities.

This information was last updated on 7 March 2022.

See the list below for which toilets are open and when.

Toilets not detailed in the list below are currently closed. Please follow appropriate social distancing guidance and directions on safety signs at the facilities.

This list will be updated as health and safety issues are reviewed.
If you have any issues and wish to report a problem, please use the link below: Alternatively, if you wish to make any comments or suggestions about any toilet units, please contact 0345 600 6400.
The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (R.A.D.A.R), alongside disability organisations, local authorities and others, established a national key scheme (NKS) for toilets for disabled people in 1981.

The principle is if a local authority locks public toilets for disabled people, it can use a standard lock and make arrangements for disabled people to obtain a key.

Can I purchase a R.A.D.A.R key from Northumberland County Council?
You can obtain a key from tourist information centres or from customer services information centres throughout Northumberland at a cost of £3.60 including VAT.

R.A.D.A.R keys must have VAT charged at 20% unless a 0% VAT for individuals form is signed by each disabled person. This form is available to download here and from tourist information and customer service information centres. The key will fit all national toilets participating in the scheme.
Northumberland County Council has a legal duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to act as the litter authority for Northumberland.

This responsibility includes:
  • street cleaning
  • litter collection
  • removal of detritus
  • fly-posting
  • graffiti
  • fly-tipping on public land maintained by the council
The cleansing programme is based on requirements set out in the code of practice on litter and refuse 2006, including types of land, zoning, response times and responsibilities of authorities.

Accurate and systematic monitoring of street cleanliness is constantly carried out to identify when and where litter problems are likely to occur, putting procedures in place to maintain standards.

Maximum effort for street sweeping is concentrated in the town centres, where there is the highest volume of people working and shopping. More outlying areas require less effort to keep them clean.

Experience has highlighted ‘hot spots’ throughout the area which need extra. In addition to the street sweeper, the council uses street vacuum cleaners and a range of mechanical sweepers, large and small.
The council is responsible for removing litter and detritus from all ‘A’ roads within Northumberland, including the sections of the A1 and A19.

The Highways Agency’s contractor A-one+ cuts the grass, repairs fences and fills potholes on the A1 and A19. Northumberland County Council are responsible for removing litter from the verges and central reservations.

Northumberland County Council endeavours to remove litter and detritus from ‘hot spot’ areas on major roads in Northumberland at least once a year. However, the division of responsibility presents a number of difficulties.

If there is no pavement or safe access, permission has to be obtained from the Highways Agency to carry out lane closures. To avoid congestion and achieve journey time reliability targets, the agency often requires closures to take place at night.

To deal with the challenges of safe working on high speed roads at night, we work in partnership with A-one+, the Highways Agency contractor, to carry out staff inductions, allowing our cleansing teams to take advantage of scheduled traffic management and lane closures already arranged by A-one+.
  • To report a litter ‘hot spot’ on the A1 or A19 or any other major road within Northumberland, call 0345 600 6400 or report online.
The graded standards shown below are used to monitor the cleanliness of areas.

For litter and refuse 
Grade Definition
A No litter or refuse
B Mostly free of litter and refuse apart from some small items
C Widespread distribution of litter and/or refuse with minor accumulations
D Heavily affected by litter and/or refuse with significant accumulations

For detritus (mud, soil, grit etc.):
Grade Definition
A No detritus
B Predominantly free of detritus, except for light scattering
C Widespread distribution of detritus with minor accumulations
D Heavily affected by detritus with significant accumulations
Find out about reporting overflowing bins, litter picking and collections, and more.

Please don't drop litter. Use a litter bin or, if there isn't one handy, take your litter home and put it in your waste bin if you can't recycle it.
If you see a damaged or overflowing bin, report it to us using the online form below. You can also use this form to request a new public litter bin. Please note this form is to be used to contact us about public litter bins e.g. in parks, on lamposts or on pavements.
Dog fouling can be bagged and disposed of in normal litter bins. We encourage the public not to place dog fouling into bins within children's play areas.

Dog owners have a responsibility to pick up after their pets and should place bagged dog fouling in a litter bin/dog waste bin or take bagged dog waste home with them.
Councils appoint officers to issue fixed penalty notices to people dropping litter. An offender has 14 days to pay the fixed penalty of £80 or £65 if paid within 7 days.. Failure to pay the fine will result in the case being taken to court and a potentially a maximum fine of £2,500.

Click here for the Environmental Enforcement Fixed Penalty Notice Policy 2017
Thoughtless drivers and their passengers tossing litter from cars are costing the taxpayer millions each year in clean-up costs.

Throwing litter from moving vehicles is dangerous for other drivers and creates a mess and a hazard on our roadside verges.
There are a number of areas in Northumberland affected by heavy leaf fall in the autumn.

These areas receive extra attention to ensure they are regularly swept of leaves, avoiding slippery and dangerous surfaces for pedestrians.

A list of the roads and public areas identified as a ‘leaf hotspot’ is kept in each depot and the areas receive extra attention throughout the autumn months.
Here you will find information on getting involved with community litter picks.

Northumberland’s face is its fortune. The cleanliness of the county is an important part of the quality of life of residents and in encouraging visitors.

Rubbish is the first thing we want to tackle. You can help by organising a litter pick in your area. LOVE Northumberland litter pick information pack
Below sets out what you need to know to begin improving your county.
1. Choose an area you want to clean up. If it’s public land maintained by Northumberland County Council, telephone 0345 6006400 and let us know the area you intend to litter pick. If it’s privately owned land, get permission from the landowner(s).

2. Decide when you want to do it.

3. Tell your friends, family and neighbours you need their help.

4. Northumberland County Council will provide litter pick packs for up to 20 people. These include:
  • litter pickers
  • rubbish sacks
  • high-visibility waistcoats
  • gloves
5. Contact Northumberland County Council. Call 0345 600 6400 to:
  • arrange a collection point to have the collected rubbish taken away
  • get advice on storing the rubbish safely until it can be collected (if necessary)
  • obtain facilities to recycle items you collect on your litter pick, such as plastic bottles, drink cans
6. Complete a risk assessment. This simple procedure ensures you have considered any safety issues and taken necessary precautions to try and prevent them.

7. Prepare yourself and your helpers for the day:
  • Decide where you will meet and at what time.
  • Think about how to split the group up to cover the area.
  • Decide how long you will litter pick and when you will take breaks.
  • Think about refreshments and what toilet facilities are available.
  • Think about first aid, safety and hygiene. Is there a first aider in the group? Do you have a supply of antibacterial wipes or hand gel? Take some plasters and antiseptic for any cuts or grazes.
8. Go through an activity planning checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

9. Contact Northumberland County Council communcations team on 0345 600 6400 and let them know what you are doing. They may want to include your litter pick in the local papers or Northumberland magazine.
1. Brief the group on:
  • health and safety. Check everyone has read the safety checklist, knows how to use the equipment and what to avoid.
  • meeting points, break and finish times
  • where to place the collected rubbish
  • who the first aider is and/or what to do if an injury occurs
2. Check everyone is wearing or has appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather and terrain.

3. Ensure there is sufficient supervision for young/vulnerable volunteers.

4. Ask the group to be considerate to wildlife and people using the area

5. Exchange mobile phone numbers to ensure good communication links between the group.

Litter pick safety checklist
  • Use gloves and avoid direct contact with litter at all times.
  • Use a litter picking tool where possible for any glass and metal items.
  • Any needles or sharp objects should be dealt with by a fully trained member of the Councils neighbourhood environmental action team. Do not pick up any suspect items, particularly those listed as hazards. Note their location and report them to the council immediately following the litter pick.
  • Clean hands thoroughly before eating food or drinking.
  • Rubbish should not be compressed using hands or feet, as this can accidentally puncture the skin.
  • Avoid contact with the body when carrying plastic bin bags.
  • Ensure any cuts or abrasions are clean and covered with a waterproof plaster.
  • Wear stout shoes and waterproof clothing.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects or sacks alone – ask for assistance if required.
  • Be aware of your environment and do not put yourself at risk while picking litter. 
The council has procedures for removing dead animals from highways.

The council removes dead animals from public highways and open spaces, including the beach. We will collect anything larger than a cat.

We do not remove rabbits or small wild animals unless they are on a residential street and are causing offence or distress.

Further information can be obtained by contacting customer services on 0345 600 6400.
Northumberland County Council community toilet scheme.

Great community spirit in spending a penny

Some fantastic businesses are doing their bit to welcome visitors to Northumberland by joining the council's 'You're welcome to use our loos' campaign.

It's a wonderful voluntary scheme where traders pledge to open their toilets to the public, making it convenient for visitors and locals to spend more time in our towns and villages.

The businesses receive the sticker, pictured left, to place prominently in public view, in so doing inviting people to use their facilities without the necessity of purchasing anything.

It helps promote Northumberland as a welcoming, friendly and accessible place and makes it likely visitors will stay longer and return more often - boosting the county's economy.

What do businesses get out of it?

  • free advertising from the county council
  • a 'you're welcome' sticker enabling the public to identify participating businesses
  • likely increase in footfall
  • the potential for more customer sales
  • a sense of community spirit

Any businesses interested in joining the voluntary scheme can seek further information by contacting Northumberland County Council on 0345 600 6400 or by email to