Shaftesbury Will Be Spring Cleaned By Volunteers – Call For National Chains To Do More

Litter will be removed from Shaftesbury’s streets and public spaces during a community clean-up day this spring.

Shaftesbury Town Council is giving up to £1,000 to support the event, after the Hilltop Litter Pickers asked whether the town could participate in Keep Britain Tidy’s national GB Spring Clean.

Whatever the weather, twice a month, Ty Crook and his helpers tackle Shaftesbury’s litter hotspots. The Hilltop Litter Pickers have gained the respect of the community. Last summer, Shaftesbury Civic Society rewarded the group with the first Rachel Caldwell Community Service Award.

Ty Crook from the Hilltop Litter Pickers

Now the Town Council has made a commitment to the helpers with this cash. “I am very pleased. I think it’s absolutely fabulous that the councillors have taken the decision to support the Hilltop Litter Pickers,” said Ty Crook after Tuesday’s council meeting.

“What I stressed to the Council is that this town is really very lucky that, for over six years now, it has had a group of dedicated people going out every fortnight. It can be pouring down with rain but we keep this town as clean as we can. These dedicated people are prepared to do it,” said Ty.

The money will buy clothing and equipment for both children and adults to use on this planned day of action and for future events. The kit includes hi-vis jackets, hoops to hold open the plastic sacks, gloves and the litter pickers, which are similar to tongs.

Ty believes that councils and our MPs have a role to play in the war on litter. ‘We have got to educate and legislate. The government has to bring in the charges on plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans,” said Ty. “When they brought in the 5p charge on plastic bags, 99.9% of plastic bags disappeared overnight. We have to force it. The supermarkets were all against the plastic bags coming in, but now they think it is great because it is saving them money. This will help the environment, completely. People will recycle themselves. We need to educate and bring the young children in.”

Councillors wanted a survey to determine which areas of town are litter hotspots. Ty says his team knows this already – Ivy Cross is a problem and fast food outlets don’t help. Ty wants the national companies operating in Shaftesbury to do more to help.

“Kentucky Fried Chicken (packaging) is a big problem and they, I believe, pay for three bins and regular clearing up in the area to try and improve the problem. This morning I picked up five plastic cups along Coppice Street and they all had ‘Costa’ on them. They’re not environmentally nice. They’re not going to go away. They are plastic. They will be there forever,” Ty warned.

“I would like the Council to use their political clout to work with companies and say, ‘okay Costa, get another little bin down Coppice Street, put your name on it and support the town. Don’t just sit there and say we are trying to be environmentally friendly’. Take action in the town and put bins in there,” he said.

Ty wants to promote a responsible approach to rubbish through a poster campaign. He’d like to create an annual contest to create an eye-catching display. He’s been impressed at how schoolchildren in a Westcountry seaside village were encouraged to communicate the message.

“It was a small village in Devon that had a half mile long pathway to a lovely cove. The first time we went there on holiday we walked down and it was actually covered in litter and dog faeces. It was awful. A couple of years later I went down there and the same path was absolutely spotless. The local primary school and junior school had got the children to make their own posters. We don’t realise the power of children to shame adults and I hope that we can spring forward with this in our schools in this lovely town. We need to shame our adults who are dropping litter,” Ty suggested.

While it was the younger children who made posters in the Devon village, Ty wants Shaftesbury’s secondary school pupils involved, too. “I want them to bring in the senior school to make larger posters that can go along Christy’s Lane, where there’s a throughput of traffic and people who drop the litter out of cars, vans and lorries. We can have big posters with catchy slogans that say ‘Shaftesbury is a litter free town’ or ‘ please respect our town’. ”

Ty is also keen to have the secondary pupils involved because litter can collect in the area around the school. “I filled up a black sack with rubbish from one small fifty metre section of hedge. Every fortnight my wife goes out and clears up all around the doctors’ surgery and it’s blowing out of the school, from the playing fields,” said Ty. “There’s more litter in the hedge that I can’t reach because I cannot get to the school side and that’s really sad. The school has got to take action. They have to educate the children. If you get them on board then there’s not going to be such a big problem with the next generation.”

As a dog-lover, Ty says he’s disappointed that fellow owners don’t clean up after their pets. He wants the posters to promote the poop-and-scoop message too. “I’m a dog owner with two dogs and I’m absolutely appalled at the amount of dog mess in parks. It’s also on the streets. There are a lot of dogs in Shaftesbury. I like dogs but I can’t think what people who haven’t got dogs must think of all the mess. Children are playing in our parks and it really is a big health issue. If a kiddie falls and gets it on their hand and rubs it in the eye they can go blind. So it is a huge problem,” Ty says.

The UK wide Keep Britain Tidy-backed event hopes to encourage 500,000 people to collect and safely dispose of single-use plastic from parks and streets, recycling as much as possible. Ty hopes that there will be a good local response but he’s unsure of our local event date as yet. The national campaign runs for a month, starting on 22nd March.

“I’ve got to talk with the rest of the litter pickers to see who’s available and see who wants to be involved with it. I have got to consider holidays when people can’t make it so we can get as many people on board as possible,” Ty said.

And he says it’s important that the Council runs the local activity. “Because of health and safety and insurance. We’re there to help them and to organise stuff. We can’t really do the roads, even in the town, because some of the pavements are too narrow and that would be dangerous for children. Hilltop Litter Pickers do most of the roads every fortnight, so there won’t be a lot there. But we’re looking at Barton Hill Park and the schools,” said Ty adding, “I’m just hoping it will be a good day out.”

We’ll let you know the date of the event, when it’s agreed, here on