Lydiate and its volunteer litter pickers

There’s a band of volunteer litter pickers in the community I live in and they go out regularly to try to keep Lydiate clean. They don’t ask for recognition and unless you see them doing their bit you might think our reasonably litter free community is being kept clean by ‘the council’.

Some impressive lengths of roads are litter picked by the volunteers and sadly they are always kept busy because a certain section of our society seems to think that chucking litter, bottles, dog poo bags etc. is a positive contribution to local life. They love throwing litter out of the windows of moving vehicles or picking up dog poo where they think they may be seen only to then deposit the very same bags anywhere they can’t be seen. The participants in these anti-social activities must feel they have a social duty to keep ‘the council’s’ street cleaners busy and in work. However, the reality is that councils do much less litter picking these days as they’ve cut back on such work to try to better fund other vital work such as paying for children in care and social care for the elderly. These two council activities cost an arm and a leg no matter which party runs ‘the council’.

I’m not trying to make excuses for ‘the council’ but having been a Borough Councillor for 16 years (1999 – 2015), 7 of those as a Council Leader, I know how desperately stretched nearly all councils are and why the likes of street cleaning has slipped down their list of priorities. It’s not a good situation but sadly it’s reality. Of course that’s why in so many communities volunteers can now often be the backbone of keeping our streets clean.

I have nothing but admiration for the work of Lydiate’s volunteer litter pickers many of whom do far more than my own very limited contribution.

I look after a footpath which connects Southport Road, Marshalls Close and Coppull Road and I litter pick it around once a month. I did it yesterday and despite only doing it around 3 weeks ago I still collected half a back bin bag of rubbish and litter. I know this path is well used but it’s also secluded so I’m guessing that a very small minority of its users chuck all the litter along it on the basis that with a quick look around to check no one can see them they can just drop whatever they want – and they do.

Whenever I see litter my mind goes back to my favourite author Bill Bryson and his book Notes from a Small Island. Bill, on travelling to Liverpool happened to do so whilst there was an industrial dispute on-going between refuse/street cleaners and the City Council. Liverpool was indeed a mess at that time and he dubbed it a ‘festival of litter’. Sadly, whilst that situation was subsequently resolved there are a small number in our society who have opted out of civic life to create work for those who really care about their community. I fear that the volunteer litter pickers will be doing their rounds for a long time to come because some in our society really can’t give a damn!

Lydiate – Coppull Rd – Southport Rd Footpath

This one does the rounds each year and has been doing so for as long as I can remember because Sefton Council only seems to cut back the overgrown foliage when a complaint is made about it.

Well Sefton gave it a haircut yesterday after a complaint was made by me (possibly by others too?) via Borough Councillor Pat O’Hanlon. I don’t have a before shot but I can assure you it was approaching the time when a machete would be needed to walk through it! Here’s the short back and sides ‘after’ view:-

Top photo looks towards Southport Road – Bottom one towards Coppull Road.

I’ve got no excuse now so I’ll litter pick it…….

Litter pick along path now done. Good news in that I only got one full bag of litter this time and the usual collection of Jack Daniels bottles was not to be seen. However, dog poo bags seem to be getting dumped there. I guess the dog walkers responsible for dumping them there must pick up where they can be seen and then dump where they can’t be seen?

Lydiate – If I’d Looked up I might well have noticed! – Coppull Rd – Southport Rd path

There’s a street lamp in that tree somewhere

No sooner had I posted about the street lamp in the Lambshear Lane – Nornmington Close footpath being covered by the tree canopy than a resident contacted me to say the same is true of the 2 lamps on the Southport Road – Coppull Road footpath.

How I’d not noticed this myself I don’t know as I use the footpath and litter pick it. It seems I’ve simply not looked up and of course have not used it in the hours of darkness.

I’ve asked Borough Cllr. Pat O’Hanlon to take this up as with the other path.

To be a volunteer litter picker or not?

The other day I was in effect challenged to reconsider my actions by a local resident. My action? To have ‘adopted’ the public footpath which runs from Southport Road to Coppull Road and litter pick it/cut back over-hanging foliage now and again. Indeed, I’ve blogged about this previously – here’s a link back to a posting from October 2018:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/10/05/lydiate-coppull-road-southport-road-footpath/

I think I’ve tidied the path up 3 times now over the past year or so but the challenge is in effect to ask me not to do it as I’m giving Sefton Council the opportunity to get out of doing it. In other words we pay Sefton Council via our council tax so make them keep it clean and tidy. And from a slightly differing perspective but on the same kind of subject a Maghull resident, by coincidence, brought my attention to this recent article* in the Metro newspaper:-

Now I’m a trade unionist by instinct and I spent many years as a trade union officer in the civil service during my working years, so the last thing I would want to do is to compromise the jobs of council employees via my well intentioned volunteer litter picking activities. I hope such an approach would go for all the volunteer litter pickers across Lydiate and many other communities.

Of course we volunteers have started to litter pick because councils have not been doing the work as they once did and yes quite clearly austerity has been the underlying cause of reduced litter picking.

So there we have it. Do volunteer litter pickers stop what they are doing because a) the council is being paid via our council tax so should be forced to get on with the job or b) volunteers may be putting council workers jobs at risk? You could say that both these points could apply of course.

Like many things in life there’s no easy answer and for what it’s worth here’s my view. Sefton Council will not be able to keep this path in the condition that local residents would want to see it because it simply does not have the resources to do so. So on that basis it will only react to issues with footpaths like this when people complain and when the condition of the paths is well past acceptable to locals. It may not be how we want things to be but its how they are though.

Do I think I am putting council jobs art risk? No I don’t unless I see some evidence of this. Do I think the council will now step back in and make the work of litter picking volunteers unnecessary? No I don’t because they are struggling to pay for much bigger issues such as care for the elderly.

Click on the newspaper article to enlarge it

Note: There is a volunteer Lydiate litter picking group who travel across the Parish litter picking – I’m not a part of that group and my litter picking has been as an individual. I do support their work though.

* the article is about Leamington Spar volunteer litter pickers

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for his input into the posting

Lydiate – Coppull Road – Southport Road Footpath

This footpath has been getting overgrown throughout the summer and I’ve had two calls at my door asking if I can get Sefton Council to cut back the offending brambles and indeed to litter pick the path.

Having discussed the matter with Lydiate’s Independent Borough Councillor Pat O’Hanlon I know she has been on the case too and thankfully Sefton Council has now taken action to cut back plant growth. Trouble is that exposed all the litter along the path but 20 minutes with a sack and a litter picking stick this afternoon and its looking a lot better now.