Bags of enthusiasm

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Elaine Atkins and Louise Burgess were among the volunteers who helped give South Woodford a spring clean in March, removing 30-plus bags of litter from our streets

#GBSpringClean invited volunteers to spruce up their local communities up and down the country between 22 March and 23 April, and during the first week, nine community groups and five schools organised litter picks in partnership with the Neighbourhood Team across Redbridge.

We were delighted to see so many people turn up for our South Woodford event. You never know who’s going to be there, and it was great to see families, our councillors and groups of friends, as well as people by themselves – we even had a picker in a pushchair!

Everyone was speaking to each other within minutes and it was great to see the community coming together. Councillor Beverly Brewer (South Woodford, Labour) came along to help and said: “I was delighted to be able to join so many neighbours for the recent litter pick. All credit to the South Woodford Society for taking this initiative. I am optimistic that the extra £1 million that the council has invested in street cleaning will make South Woodford cleaner.”

Redbridge Council provided litter pickers, high-vis jackets and sacks for recycling and rubbish, and groups of volunteers litter picked through five busy routes. George Lane, the Woodford High Road and the verges by Charlie Brown’s Roundabout were all targets for the litter heroes.

The volunteers picked up litter enthusiastically for over an hour and a half. It was hard to get them to stop! There must have been at least 30 rubbish sacks that we left in piles alongside the bins, and lots of recycling too. We found car number plates, a pair of expensive sunglasses and shoes – neatly placed together on the kerb. Cigarette butts were everywhere and it’s as if people don’t realise they are littering when they throw them away. But they are! If only smokers would use the bins or the very cheap pouches you can get these days.

It is also worth mentioning the council planning notices left to rot on lamp posts, as well as the lost pet posters. It was so sad to think of all those pets still missing but hopefully, most of them have been found now. It would be so helpful if everyone who puts the posters up – including the Planning Department – could come and take them down again.

Sadly, the volunteers were unable to do anything about chewing gum, but the good news is that the Redbridge  Our Streets Neighbourhood Team are looking into a number of options to alleviate this problem, such as a chewing gum bin trial at South Woodford Station or a gum cleaning machine – so we may start to see some improvement in the amount of gum on the streets during the summer.

Councillor Clark Vasey (Churchfields, Conservative) said: “It was great to see so many local residents take to the streets to clean up their own area. While Woodford might not be high on the council’s priorities, it is clear how much residents care and the piles of bags of rubbish at the end of the spring clean shows just what a difference people who care about their area can make.”

Lots of people approached us to spur us on and to ask when the next litter pick will be so that they can be involved. It’s always hard to get everyone to know about these events but we’ll do our best to get the word out for the next event, so please check our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest information, and if you are not a member, please send in your details to join our email distribution list.

To be added to the South Woodford Society mailing list, email e18society@gmail.com. For more information on the group’s work, visit swvg.co/sws or follow them on Twitter @SoWoSociety
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Elaine Atkins
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Louise Burgess
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