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Gillingham Litter Pickers Mark Pearce Chester
Members of Gillingham Litter Pickers being handed gloves by Mark Pearce of Chester Jefferies Ltd, glove manufactures based in Gillingham, in April 2019.

The mayor of Gillingham has praised the ‘amazing job’ being done by volunteers from the Gillingham Litter Pickers who are trying to keep the town tidy during the lockdown.

‘I have noticed that there has been an increase in litter about the town and Shirley Ball and her fantastic team of volunteers are doing an amazing job out there. I’d like to give a big shout out of thanks to them,’ Councillor Barry Von Clemens told a meeting of the town council’s general purposes committee on Monday.

His comments were echoed by committee chair Councillor Mick Hill who said that the group was doing “astounding” work to help keep the town’s streets tidy.

Local resident Shirley Ball formed Gillingham Litter Pickers in April 2018 and the first group pick was held on 4 April 2018.

*Dorset Council says its ‘fight’ against roadside litter is continuing – with the annual spring clean of verges along some of the county’s busiest roads.

Councillor Jill Haynes, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Community Services, said: ‘The volume of accumulated litter revealed by cutting back verges is always depressing, and it is incredibly frustrating that, despite our efforts, some roads become covered in litter again just weeks later, often leading to the assumption that litter picking hasn’t been done or that it won’t be done at all.

‘Arranging litter picking on high-speed roads takes a great deal of planning to arrange the appropriate traffic management measures to keep our operatives safe and schedule for the least disruptive times for the travelling public. While we are working hard to ensure that litter picking activities take place as usual, some have been delayed due to challenges presented by the pandemic.

‘While we have a duty to clear the litter from our roads, I would kindly ask people to remember that it is not the Council who produce this waste. A small number of anti-social motorists spoil these verges for everyone by littering from vehicles and clearing it up takes valuable council resources away from essential services, when drivers could easily take their waste home.’

The council’s waste team is working with countryside offices to ensure that litter picking is scheduled following the flailing of roadside verges – currently underway on the A37 between Dorchester and the county boundary.

Following this, litter picking is scheduled for the A338 Bournemouth Spur Road at the end of March while highways colleagues have a road closure in place for annual maintenance.

Litter picking on A338 in 2020
Litter picking on the A338 in 2020.

The A30 from Yeovil to Sherborne is scheduled for litter picking following its first cut back in the Spring, where a specialist traffic management contractor will be needed as it is a dual carriageway.

Overnight litter picking on the A31 from River Stour to the county boundary is scheduled for April, where a Highways England approved traffic management contractor will be used to ensure waste operatives’ safety on the trunk road.

Elsewhere in the county, Stapehill Road in Wimborne, the A354 Weymouth Relief Road, B3157 Granby Way, Blandford Bypass and Upton Bypass are monitored and inspected for litter, as well as having programmed litter picking throughout the year.

Councillor Haynes added: ‘We simply don’t have the resources to litter pick every verge in the council area, so we focus our attention on the busiest A roads, which need strict health and safety considerations. It’s the continued efforts of volunteers and community groups that keep our rural verges litter free. Thank you for your invaluable help.’

Dorset Council is supporting this year’s #LoveYourVerge campaign, which will see ‘pop-up’ signage on roadsides to celebrate local habitat and the biodiversity across Dorset, and encourage residents and visitors to value verges and other open spaces.

The campaign is a collaboration between the council’s Greenspace Service and Litter Free Dorset.

Residents can report litter problems, fly-tipping and rubbish being thrown from a vehicle online at www.dorestcouncil.gov.uk

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