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posted 3 Apr 2012, 12:10 by Westover Labour   [ updated 3 Apr 2012, 13:02 ]
"It's only when you start getting involved in picking up litter that you suddenly notice it everywhere and what a big problem it is!" said Jana Branecka, who has recently signed up to the ever increasing army of anti litter campaigners in the ward. Today she was picking up by the footpath alongside the River Parret. "There were Five of us and we did about two full bags each over about an hour."  

The Bridgwater Anti Rubbish Team is only one of a growing number of community groups forming to deal with the litter situation. Lynda Duthie from the 'Friends of Brownes Pond' group said she was "pleasantly impressed" by the way Clean Surroundings had responded to requests from ward councillors to clean up the footpath by Morrisons but pointed out that the nearby canal itself was in "an awful state.

James Presdee, from Clean Surroundings, said "Strictly speaking SDC is only responsible for the tarmac footpath section. Adjacent is down to the land owner I.e. Morrisons/Environment Agency. Having said that, I did ask them to do what they could on the other areas . All the canal areas fall to British Waterways to clean not SDC. We do however support 2 local volunteer groups who cover the canal with equipment and waste disposal. I have raised the issue with staff the routine staff involved regarding the footpath by Morrisons as it clearly had not been done recently.  Rob Semple is doing some work with Morrisons with the aim of them providing extra bins and more routine litter picking as the majority of the litter comes from their store"


Lynda said "I realise that getting things cleaned up doesn't mean that they will stay that way but I believe that the longer things are neglected the more people accept that as the status quo and we end up living in a ghetto."

SDC officer Rob Semple has been tasked with helping the Brownes pond group and is leading an initiative to get things moving. Rob says "I spoke to Morrisons yesterday and it sounds hopeful that they will pay for some bins to be installed along that lane, I have also asked that they start to do litter picks for the hedge row along the path. They did seem interested in what we are trying to do and did understand that the litter can have an impact on their customers perceptions as well. "


Westover ward councillor Brian Smedley went with Jana on a walkabout along the canal (which is where the enclosed photographs come from) to gain an overall perspective of the problem. He commented "The canal is clearly a disgrace with the amount of litter in it and the whole ward has several areas that have become regular tipping points. I raised this with the SDC Portfolio holder last week who said they were keen to help out and that people should identify the main areas. On our tour today it's clear that the recent charges for some waste disposals haven't helped and have led to increased Fly-Tipping . It's also obvious that some areas of the canal near to the bridges are easy targets for this"

Cllr Smedley continued "  However, the broader problem is that no matter how much work the volunteer groups do and no matter how much tidying up Clean Surroundings do unless we get people to realise they simply shouldn't drop litter in the first place we'll be fighting a losing battle. We got the Morrison's footpath cleaned up and while we were admiring it out came a mum pushing her child and straight on the cleaned floor went a discarded promo leaflet from the shop. What makes her think she has the right to do that and what message does it send to her child!? The only solution is to include a programme of education alongside the increased enthusiasm for litter-picking. One resident said to me 'we won't solve this until we teach Bridgwater to pick up it's litter' and that's the nub of the matter."


Cllr Smedley has called for a meeting with Adrian Gardner, head of SDC's environment section next week and will be looking at the wider policies employed by the Council through the Scrutiny Committee which he chairs. "We have to get the agencies and the caring public together on this one and then see exactly what can be done to kick start some education on the subject"


Lynda says "I also suspect that the different agencies can pass the buck and have got away with it for a long time.  I know from the comments made by residents and other dog walkers that the majority of people really would like to see some improvement in their immediate environment.  When they have seen change, most appreciate it.  I do think this would be a good time to draw attention to a problem which is getting out of hand but requires a change of culture if any improvement is to be maintained.  A litter strategy sounds like a good idea.....more bins, more frequent emptying................and a total un-acceptance of dropping litter!!"

Photos;-A pleasant walk along the Bridgwater-Taunton Canal in Westover Ward