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We are not really a group! We are a loose alliance! We started as dog walkers and photographers back in the 70s. I would be walking with our hound and stop to take a picture only to find that foreground rubbish had to be removed. This led to always taking bags for rubbish whenever I went out. For larger items (fly-tips etc) I would move them to a suitable roadside location and call the council who were (and are) very obliging. My “comrades” would do the same. This has been going on ever since (our last dog departed some years ago but the walking and photography continue). My current (well actually for many years) “bete noire” is bagged dog crap. Twas quite funny, some years ago we had a serial crap flinger - it was everywhere: undergrowth, behind walls, brambles, trees etc. So, one weekend we decided to have a blitz on the stuff. We found about 250 bags in the undergrowth along Leafy Lane, over 100 in one location behind a dry stone wall and so on - a total of around 700 bags altogether. I was walking down my road with a bin bag of bagged dog crap over each shoulder when a neighbour stopped me and asked what I had in the bags! Since that time he and his wife have been inveterate litter pickers. The bagged dog crap problem continues. I have picked up about 30 in various locations over the past couple of weeks (this statement will be approximately true whenever you are reading this!). I used to think that this was just one halfwit on the loose, but it appears that this extraordinary behaviour is common practice. I believe (and I have written to Wilts CC about this) that the socially-acceptable practice of bagging dog crap, binning it and dumping it into landfill is an aberration. We have programmes on TV where ologists of various kinds look at ancient middens to find out how people lived. What will future ologists think of our society? “Look - they used to wrap up their dog crap and bury it - how weird!” Talking of weird, an odd incident occurred during my 23 Jan 2012 pick-up. I had a good bin-bag full of rubbish which I was attempting to stuff into the waste bin at Northleaze Mobile Home Park when one of a posse of locals shouted over “Oi - what do you think you’re doing?”. A small exchange ensued during which I explained that this was at least a weekly occurrence and I was tidying-up THEIR environment. But they were having none of it - “You can’t do that”, one said. I should say that this lady did offer to put the rubbish in her own bin but by this time the bin-bag was ripped and taking it out again would have seen the rubbish spilled on the ground. Anyway, their objection seemed to be one of possession - it was their bin! This would be fair enough if the bin was ever used but every time I deposit rubbish in that bin, it is empty (as it was on this occasion). It seems that they want theoretical of the bin without ever using it! Anyway my bin-bag was stuffed into the bin; the bin was emptied by the council the next morning and I stuffed a further bag of rubbish into it later that day. It is odd that no account is taken of rubbish lying in the street but clearance of that same rubbish invokes local disapproval! Another anecdote - for many years, on Sunday mornings when out walking the dog, I would find an empty bottle of South African white wine (always South African) and an empty (70cl) bottle of vodka tightly knotted into a Tescos plastic bag in the lay-by in White Ennox Lane. What a wild time they must have had and what an interesting drive home. The bizarre things you find when out collecting rubbish! Today, 25 Nov 2012, it was the “Bath & Wells Diocesan News”, No 264, December 1980 (see pic)! This was by the bus stop at the top of Box Hill. I can imagine the Bishop of Bath & Wells waiting for the bus in his vestments with his mitre and crosier (or is that Catholic bishops?) and unfortunately dropping his News on boarding the bus. One of the News items was the 1980 General Synod at which a major issue would be the ordination of women! Now, thirty-two years on, the Synod has been voting on women bishops. What a slow-moving organisation the C of E is! By the way, the 20,000 or so bags picked up is an estimate, but probably a conservative one. My weekly pick-up is about 8 bags - 8x52x32(years) is about 13,000. I am, no doubt, doing a great disservice to the rest of the Mob in estimating their input as only 7,000 bags - watch out for the update. The following table started in 2012, which I will try to update regularly, gives an idea of the scale of the ‘problem’. 1 Jan 2012: B3109, Skynet Drive, field edge 4+bags+mattress - called Wilts CC 2 Jan 2012: Leafy Lane, woods and playing fields, 5 bags 3 Jan 2012: Boxfields Road, Box Hill Common 3 bags+ fly tip - called Wilts CC 4 Jan 2012: Quarry Hill, 3 bags + bagged dog crap (BDC) 5 Jan 2012: B3109, A4 to Hare & Hounds 5 bags+ BDC (7 bags) 6 Jan 2012: Leafy Lane & A4 towards Corsham, 5 bags 7 Jan 2012: B3109, Skynet Drive, Park Lane, 4 bags+ BDC 8 Jan 2012: A4 towards Box, 2 bags 9 Jan 2012: B3109 & A4 towards Corsham, 4 bags 12 Jan 2012: Boxfields Road 1 bag+ small fly tip - called Wilts CC 16 Jan 2012: B3109 & A4 towards Corsham, 4 bags 17 Jan 2012: B3109, Skynet Drive, The Carriage Drive, Pound Mead, 7 bags 23 Jan 2012: B3109 & A4 towards Corsham, 3 bags + BDC 24 Jan 2012: B3109 & A4 towards Corsham, 2 bags 28 Jan 2012: Leafy Lane & B3109 from small Fiveways towards Corsham, 1 bag 7 Feb 2012: B3109 and A4 towards Corsham, 1 bag 8 Feb 2012: Leafy Lane and woodland, 2 bags 12 Feb 2012: A4 towards Box, 4 bags 13 Feb 2012: Rudloe Firs and A4 towards Corsham 10 bags (and still stuff remaining) 13 Feb 2012: (later) B3109, 2 bags 21 Feb 2012: B3109, 1 bag 23 Feb 2012: B3109, Leafy Lane, Leafy Lane Playing Fields, 14 bags Okay, I guess you get the picture so with one month being very much like another I will discontinue the diary. This is a week-on-week, year-on-year occupation. The last pick-up listed above is instructive though - let me elaborate .. Leafy Lane Playing Fields is a 20 acre site at the south-eastern edge of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Its users include football clubs, cricket clubs etc but the principal user is AFC Corsham who do an outstanding job in providing opportunities for young people to play football. AFC Corsham runs 15 teams for youngsters between the ages of around 5 to 15/16. You can imagine therefore the number of youngsters provided for and the scores of parents who ferry their charges back and forth from home to ground and back. All fine BUT it appears that not one of the committee, managers and coaches, parents or others gives a hoot about the enormous piles of litter which are left to accumulate week after week. Rather than an AONB, Leafy Lane Playing Fields resembles a rubbish tip. The Rudloe Mob has an onslaught on the accumulation every couple of months or so. Of the 14 bags collected on 23rd February 2012, 10 came from the playing fields and this was just the tip of the iceberg (see photographs of some of what still remains). The state of the playing fields is, I believe, representative of the state of Britain. A 20-acre site frequented by a community of users who deposit rubbish then cheerfully wander through that same rubbish without giving it a second thought. With regard to litter, whether it is at community or national level, in general “we” couldn’t care less. In the eighties “that cow” (as described by our local MP at the time, the 6th Earl of Kilmorey or Sir Richard Needham) appointed Richard Branson as the uncrowned king of litter - see this 2005 Guardian article on the subject https://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2005/sep/24/comment - but his campaign along with all others, like the long-established Keep Britain Tidy, failed or is failing. It is not good enough to have high-profile personalities, photo-shoots and high-salaried executives with meaningless job descriptions - take a look at the job description for the £40k plus Head of Communications and Marketing at Keep Britain Tidy: OUTCOMES TO BE DELIVERED *Implementation and delivery of the five year communications strategy and annual action plan *Enhanced reputation of Keep Britain Tidy and its sub-brands *Senior management feel supported through provision of strategic advice and guidance *New income streams developed, for example, from behaviour change campaigns *Stakeholders strategically managed and influenced *Resources managed effectively within budget to meet to customer demand *Visible leadership to the relevant communications teams as well as across the wider organisation *Enhanced profile of the organisation with the relevant audiences *Public membership scheme developed and successfully implemented, when agreed Talk about Nero fiddling while Rome burns! We are drowning in a sea of rubbish! You can see the outcome of almost 60 years of Keep Britain Tidy in the small community area covered by this Litteraction webpage. YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO GET OUT THERE AND PICK UP RUBBISH -REGULARLY!
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Here at CleanupUK, we want to help you to take LitterAction! Wherever you live in the UK, forming your own community litter-picking group will help to keep your community safer, more friendly and free of litter. It’s lots of fun too. Why not muck in and join us?