OVER the last two weekends, Warrington’s litter picking heroes broke some new records, collecting over 300 bags of rubbish!
Litter picking networks across the town now have more than 1,500 members, with many out over the last two weekends, joined by local councillors and council officers.
It follows on from last year’s “September 2020 Spring Clean”. Yes, that’s right, the Spring Clean was held in autumn, having been delayed by Covid-19 lockdown. Warrington held a cross-town litter pick which extended for 9 miles, from Whittle Hall to Grappenhall. You may also remember that the six teams of three volunteers gathered 60 bags of litter.
This year for the 2021 Great British Spring Clean (a Spring Clean held in Summer – it is getting better), Warrington’s litter picking groups organised three events. For Covid safety these were all open to the public by pre-booking only, and used small, socially distanced teams for Covid safety.
The first was the Sankey Canal pick on Saturday June 5th, which extended for 15 miles along the full length of the Sankey Canal. The Sankey Canal extends from Carr Mill Dam in St Helens, via Winwick and the Sankey Valley Trail through Warrington to Sankey Bridges, then runs alongside the Trans Pennine Trail all the way to Spike Island in Widnes. A total of 9 teams (including two small cycling litter teams) from Warrington and St Helens, tidied the whole distance over three days. Most of those teams came from Warrington, organised by Clean Up My Community Warrington and its allied local Litter Networks teams (see litternetworks.org). A total of 160 bags of litter were collected, of which 102 were from the Warrington teams, so the final score was Warrington 102, St Helens 58. Special same-day bag collection was organised by Warrington Borough Council (WBC).
On Saturday June 12th a second Cross Town pick was organised, this time from Birchwood to Walton. This was planned to be a continuous 9 mile route, largely traffic free extending through parks and green spaces including Birchwood Forest Park, Victoria Park and the TPT. As well as the 32 volunteers in the six Litter Networks teams (gathering 42 bags of litter), other independent local teams contributed on the same day – these were Walton Parish Council (6 bags) and Friends of Gorse Covert Mounds (10 bags). This extended the distance from near Junction 11 of the M62 towards the village of Moore, around 11 miles and the total to 58 bags of litter. Litter collection by WBC was pre-arranged – the organisers really appreciate their support!
Finally, on Sunday 13th June, a Warrington Town Centre Loop pick took place. Five more teams assembled before 8am (when traffic was quietest), and each tidied one section of a 10km town centre loop. The 42 volunteers had booked in advance through litternetworks.org and came from literally all over town, with large local contingents from Fairfield and Howley and Orford. The route included parts of the Mersey Way, Church St, Manchester Rd, Marsh House Lane, Cabul Close (Terry Flaherty’s team of volunteers gathered 40 bags here), Battersby Lane, Lythgoes Lane, Orford Lane,
Longford St, Kerfoot St, Folly Lane, Bewsey Road, Froghall Lane and Sankey St back to Riverside Retail Park. In total 141 bags of litter were collected, plus many fly-tipped items. Again same-day bag collection was supported by WBC preventing the waste from becoming a magnet for further rubbish.
So what does this say about our town?
First, in June 2021 the people of Warrington really do care about where they live. The maths are clear, in two weekends Warrington’s own volunteer litter heroes have collected 301 sacks of litter!
Second, Warrington can be a beautiful place. Experiencing the natural beauty of the wonderful local parks and trails during the pick and it is easy to forget you are in a town at all!
Third, local litter picking is getting organised! As we emerge from lockdown we are seeing many new small local groups organising on litternetworks.org. Collaboration between those small organised groups has put large town-scale events back on the menu, as they adapt to the Covid world.
Fourth, you can see the difference. Litter picking can positively impact the public experience and perception of the town. A cleaner local environment encourages us all out into the fresh air. That has to be good for local public pride, and personal physical and mental wellbeing, and can only help retail and business recover.
Fifth, the network is truly fortunate to have the support of the local authority. Warrington Borough Council – including Ian Brackenbury, David Boyer and Chantelle Bramhall – have closely supported their efforts with safety advice, bag supplies, some equipment supplies where resources allow and bag collection. Together they are cutting through local stalemates and red tape. They were also joined by several local councillors and one local MP on these litter picks. All of whom got stuck in and showed great potential!
Next steps. The local litter picking movement is growing apace from Clean Up My Community Warrington’s (CUMCW) origins in Westbrook to an increasing number (currently 17) of Litter Network groups across the town now with over 1500 members. At the micro-level, these local pages encourage coordinated solo picks, or adopting a street, but also enable small groups to combine for larger events like these. Providing flexibility to make litter picking fit into individuals’ day to day lifestyles, while providing the means to coordinate and collaborate the clean-up of each area of the borough, is a real key to its success to date
Potential volunteers, please note organisers hope to return to the town centre early one Sunday in July and are considering routes now. Booking details will be posted on the various local Litter Network Facebook groups and CUMCW pages as soon as they can.