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US author and broadcaster David Sedaris said Britain had a "cultural" problem with throwing rubbish on the streets

US author and broadcaster David Sedaris said Britain had a "cultural" problem with throwing rubbish on the streets

US author and broadcaster David Sedaris said Britain had a "cultural" problem with throwing rubbish on the streets

An anti-litter campaigner has blamed poor people for making a mess of his picturesque local area.

US author and broadcaster David Sedaris said Britain had a "cultural" problem with throwing rubbish on the streets.

But the American - who had a council rubbish truck named after him in honour of his daily clean-ups - said most of what he found was cheap produce.

And he hit out at schools for failing to educate young people on the issue - claiming one head said making them pick up litter would be "demeaning".

Mr Sedaris spoke out after being invited by a Commons committee to give evidence to its inquiry into littering.

"If I am looking at the things I find at the side of the road ... I haven't found any opera tickets," he told MPs of his missions of up to eight hours at a time in the roads near his home in Pulborough, West Sussex.

"There's a Waitrose not far from me. I found one Waitrose bag last year.

"There's a Tesco Metro that I think of as a litter-supply store not far by and I find Tesco bags all the time.

"I don't find containers that nuts came in. It's fast food, it's crisps, it's candy bars.

"Of all the cigarettes I find, I find more Mayfair than any other brand. And are Mayfair not the cheapest cigarettes that there are?

"I'm not trying to sound like a snob but if you walk down a mile of road and take everything that you find and you lay it out there, there is no denying the things you've found."

He joked that it was perhaps being dropped from the passing cars of people unable to afford the town's expensive properties.

"Maybe they are throwing things out the window as a way of saying 'screw you, people who live here'," he said.

Mr Sedaris said he had been staggered to find the scale of the problem in the UK, saying one had to go "deep into Eastern Europe to find it this bad".

"It's obviously a cultural thing," he told the communities and local government select committee.

But he also accused authority figures - including teachers and judges - of failing to show leadership.

A local councillor had visited a school responsible for a "staggering" amount of litter, he said.

"The headteacher said it's demeaning to make children pick up rubbish.

"If that's the lesson, there's no hope. If throwing it down is fine but picking it up is disgraceful then that's a real problem."

He went on: "My council has brought cases to court of fly-tipping and stuff and judges have said 'well it's not rape'. Well no. But there's something between rape and littering and those things are important."

"Why should everyone have to live in a teenager's bedroom? It's bad for your spirit - I don't care where you live or how much money you have - to have to walk through filth is no way to live."

Mr Sedaris confessed that when he was a smoker he thought nothing of putting out a butt on the street and not thinking of it as littering.

PA Media