OPINION: If we cleaned up our own mess, the council wouldn’t be forced to waste tight budget on borough litter problem

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In August 2018, I wrote an article for the Gedling Eye in which I explained why so much more could be done to address the problem of litter across Gedling Borough, which has become such a blight on our streets, parks and open spaces.

In the 10 short months since I wrote that article so much has changed.

Gedling Borough Council has positively reached out to a number of local voluntary community groups and established effective partnerships with them, which focus on a shared goal of decreasing the unacceptable levels of litter across the Borough.

The Borough Council’s commitment to these groups has been enshrined within its Gedling Plan 2019 / 20, with an undertaking to promote and support community ‘clean-up’ initiatives.

My own group, the Willow Farm Action Group, has removed 117 bin bags of litter and large amounts of other rubbish from the area of Gedling that is bordered by Lambley Lane, Arnold Lane and Wood Lane. That is 117 bags of litter and rubbish that would still be laying where it was discarded, had it not been for the efforts of our volunteers who are, after all, simply local residents who have pride in the area in which they live.

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In Carlton, Kate and Anthony Carver – Smith have established the Carlton Community Street Cleaners. This dynamic group of volunteers have come together and established a network of local residents, who have adopted a number of streets within Carlton and are out most weeks cleaning up the litter dropped by others. They are also engaging with local businesses to seek and encourage their support in reducing the amount of litter in the area.

To their credit, Gedling Borough Council have responded positively to this tide of enthusiastic volunteers by establishing a Steering Group, chaired by their Chief Executive Karen Bradford and the leader of the Council, Councillor John Clarke, to coordinate the efforts of the Borough Council and the community groups, thereby ensuring that a close partnership is maintained. This partnership will continue to evolve in the coming months, but has the potential to make a huge difference to the places in which we live.

A cake found dumped on WIllow Lane back in May (IMAGE: Philip Oddie)

As an example of what can be achieved, In March this year, the Gedling Big Spring Clean event resulted in five tonnes of rubbish being removed by volunteers and council staff.

This initiative was directly supported by Karen Bradford, Cllr John Clark and other Borough councillors, who turned out to support community groups in their activities on the day. It was a great success and it will be repeated in the next few months.

So, you may ask, is this the solution to the problem of litter across the Borough? It is not!

Week after week community volunteers and Borough Council staff are investing time and effort to pick-up the litter deliberately dropped by others. It is a never-ending battle.

In truth, we should not need a Borough Council to spend large amounts of taxpayers money or volunteers to give up hundreds of hours of their time to collect the rubbish discarded by selfish, arrogant and irresponsible people who routinely throw their litter onto our streets and parks and then expect someone else to pick it up.

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Imagine what your local area would look like if no one picked up this discarded litter.

We are, of course, frustrated by the attitude of others, because it is so easily remedied if these people simply changed their behaviour and placed their litter in a bin!

To illustrate the problem we face, on May 26 this year I was out collecting litter when I found a large bin bag full of food cartons, boxes and a the remains of a birthday cake dumped on Willow Lane, Gedling.

A 23rd birthday celebration had taken place and the resultant rubbish, instead of being placed in a bin, was simply discarded on the Lane, without a thought for the environment or local residents. Celebrating a 23rd birthday is to mark a special occasion BUT why did it have to end with such an irresponsible act?

It seems that we now accept the discarding of litter on our streets as ‘normal’ and ‘to be expected’; but why? Why do we not strive to make this socially unacceptable? In the face of this decline in standards of behaviour, we can all make a difference if,  with determination, effort  and a refusal to accept the ‘inevitability’ of litter, we encourage, educate and demand improvements in behaviour from those who are responsible for blighting the areas in which we live and work.

Clearly, the solution for this problem rests with those that discard the litter and not with the voluntary groups or, indeed, the Borough Council, who collect it.


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