Saturday afternoon saw brilliant sunshine and a huge array of High Viz vests taking to the Streets of Kingsway to do the first Kingsway Litter Pick. Organised by the Kingsway Residents Association, and supported by over 70 residents, I think the day was a huge success and really worked to help clean up our streets, but also bring the community together in a common purpose.
When my kids asked what we were going to be doing that afternoon (I was daddy daycare as mummy took a well-earned break by going to watch the rugby), their faces fell a bit as I told them we were going litterpicking. “That doesn;t sound fun” was the under the breath comment! But when we got there and they saw that lots of other kids were there and they got to play with litter pickers and stuff, they grudging admitted it was great to be involved. We met up with a host of other residents, were organised into groups and we set off round Kingsway to get rid of the rubbish.
What was also nice is that may residents used the opportunity to grill me on why I was standing for election and what I could do for them, and what was pleasantly surprising,what could they do for me. Many were disappointed not to see any of the other candidates there to talk to, and I have to admit I was too. It would have been nice to meet the other candidates, as I havn’t seen them either. While i have been passed his literature,I have never actually seen Dave Norman(C) anywhere. Many people who spoke to me was also disappointed not to see Richard Graham MP as promised, though when we got back,we were told that he had eventually turned up, did some photos and then have to go and catch a train. However the Photos that I have seen do show that he did go and do some litter picking, so all credit to him for coming and getting his hands dirty, even just for a brief stint. See the video link below for his thoughts:
After 2 hours, and with rather full bags, we returned as a group and many people commenting on what good fun it had been and that it was a really social event as well as improving our community. My kids decided that they had earned an ice cream and I thought they were right, so after handing back the equipment and cleaning hands, we trooped off and they enjoyed the fruits (or ice creams) of their labours. We did have interesting discussions about where the litter came from, and while there are a lot of people who drop the litter, we also need to look at the other factors, and the biggest one is that litter is always worse on a Friday and Saturday and that is down to the kerbside recycling boxes and how the contents of those boxes (paper, card etc) is blown around by the wind etc on collection day. This is something that really needs addressed.
I had a chat to Cllr Chris Chatterton about what had been achieved the following day, and as we were walking round areas of Grange, we thought about how we could do a similar thing to clear the waterway that runs adjacent to Homleigh Road as residents were telling us just how awful that gets and is a source of regular complaint. So I feel that donning some wellies and gloves could be in order there.
I think the value in the event was really in so many people seeing residents getting involved and there were so many people who had passed us and said thank you. Yes, we can not completely eliminate people dropping litter, but hopefully more people will think about it. As I said to Joe Logan, the chair of the Residents Association, the next one of these will have more people attending and the message will go further. I think the Residents Association deserve huge commendation for organising such a great community based event and I look forward to the next one.