National recognition for litter-picking team

An environmental group and one of its key organisers have been shortlisted for a national award.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 1:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st January 2019, 1:18 pm
Dai Richards and members of the Litter Blitz group with Coun Glen Sanderson in Morpeth. Picture by Jane Coltman

Dai Richards and the Morpeth Litter Blitz group are among those recognised by Keep Britain Tidy – they are one of the finalists in the category of #LitterHeroes for its annual network awards next month.

The nomination has to come from a local authority, and Northumberland County Council put them forward for their extensive work across the town – they work very closely with its local services teams.

Morpeth had a number of litter picking and tidying initiatives in place, but Mr Richards recognised that there would be benefits to a more co-ordinated approach and he contacted the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, Morpeth Lions Club and other voluntary groups such as the Scouts to pull together a community of volunteers.

He set up meetings with local councillors, representatives from the town and county councils and other interested parties, and a small working group started to plan and promote a series of events and activities.

The councils and local businesses have helped by providing litter pickers and equipment and, working with Morpeth Town Council, new litter bins have been installed.

Mr Richards said: “The most important message from our Morpeth Blitzes is that by all working as part of one team, you can achieve superb results.

“It all started back in 2017 when I was walking my dog, with my trusty litter picker, and was alerted to a huge litter black spot in the town.

“I knew the problem was far too big for one individual and during that walk, the idea of a litter blitz group was spawned.

“By the end of 2018, we had collected 401 large black bags of rubbish – plus numerous large items such as barbecues, tyres, wheelbarrows and TVs.

“What a team we have. Walking around Morpeth, you can definitely see a difference, with the town centre and estates looking much tidier.

“It has definitely changed people’s attitudes and cleaned up areas of the town where litter could previously gather.”

There were many picks and events throughout 2018. For example, 22 people attended a litter-picking activity and collected 82 bags of rubbish as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean.

Coun Glen Sanderson, county council cabinet member for the environment and local services said: “The entire project is a great example of everyone coming together as one team – the people and the businesses of Morpeth, the county council and the local town council – all with the aim of tackling a problem that is sadly widespread throughout the UK.

“I would like to thank Dai and all the volunteers for their ongoing excellent work, and wish them the best of luck at the finals.

“The county council will continue to do all it can to crack down on littering.”

Northumberland County Council has been shortlisted for the second year running for its Love Parks campaign – an online promotion about people’s love for the county’s parks and green spaces.

It won this national award last year and has been shortlisted again for 2019.