ONE of Griffith's most respected men has made a rare foray into the public debate to declare his disgust at the profusion of rubbish polluting the city's streets.
Former federal member Noel Hicks swore he would stay out of public life after retiring, but has become so frustrated by Griffith's litter problem he has come forward to demand a solution.
Mr Hicks was appalled at the litter, dumped rubbish and even raw waste he encountered in Griffith last weekend while participating in Clean up Australia Day.
He has called on the community to take responsibility for keeping the city pristine; and council to issue fines to offenders.
"We must recognise that we are presently facing economic difficulties that are creating uncertainty," Mr Hicks wrote in a letter to The Area News.
"It is essential at a time like this we have to portray a city that has a high morale and is going to grow and prosper no matter what is thrown at us.
"If people visit our city and see littered streets, broken down signs, bins emptied and trashed, street trees destroyed by vandals, graffiti on walls ... we look like a defeated community, and this is far from the truth."
Mr Hicks was concerned about rubbish building up in the city's drains and blocking culverts, creating a potential for flooding in heavy rain.
The majority of rubbish he came across on the clean-up day was takeaway food containers, cigarette waste and drink containers.
"Why we do not have a deposit system on drink bottles as in South Australia is beyond comprehension," Mr Hicks said.
"A person only has to travel throughout South Australia to see the difference."
A small army of volunteers regularly pick up rubbish around town but have struggled to keep on top of the problem as the litter just keeps returning.
Council executive services manager Shireen Donaldson said fines were part of council's ongoing clean-up process but it was difficult to issue infringements.
"We are very aware there is a grave littering issue and we want to enforce compliance as much as possible," she said.
"Our compliance officers can issue on-the-spot fines and they also issue clean-up notices.
"They target high-density streets with routine clean-up notices as part of our program to remind people of their obligations."
Mrs Donaldson said fines could rarely be enforced after rubbish had been dumped because it was difficult to prove who had committed the offence.