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Community Clean Up

From Norman Yeowart

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Delighted to see the dozen or so bags of rubbish have been cleared from the towpath and are awaiting collection near one of the Mytholmroyd bridges.

These bags include not only normal litter - plastic bottles, fag packets, discarded food & sweet wrappers etc but also many kilograms of dog shite that have been deposited in plastic bags by thoughtless dog owners. Once dropped these ubiquitous bags remain to pollute the towpath and verges for many months, if not years.

The community volunteers who undertook this disgusting task should be recognised and rewarded by the council - the lack of council bins and a decent collection service contribute hugely to this problem.

When are the council going to take this problem seriously ? It has been highlighted on this forum many times in the past. Relying on volunteer action, welcome though it is, is dereliction of council responsibility in my opinion.

From Hebden Royd Town Council

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Hebden Royd Town Council organises the annual Spring Clean and it is fantastic that so many people take part.

Over the weekend there were teams out from Burnley Road Academy PTFA, Calder High School Sixth Form, Cragg Vale Community Association, The Friends of Nutclough Woods, Oakville Residents Association, Steepfields Allotment Society, and Treesponsibility all doing a great job in cleaning up their local area.

Even more teams will be out spring cleaning throughout March including Mytholmroyd Scout Group, Sweet & Maxwells Green Team, Mytholmroyd Station Partnership, Friends of Hebden Bridge Station and St Johns Church!

For each team that takes part in the clean up the Town Council sponsors them a minimum of £60 to spend on their chosen local project.

From Norman Yeowart

Friday, 10 March 2017

Well I’m glad the community groups are being recognized. I reckon that HRC are getting good value - I estimate £720 once a year and apparently making good use of child labour?

The towpath between Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd is an extremely well used facility – by walkers, cyclists, runners, and hundreds of dogs and their owners. School kids also use this track going backwards and forwards to Calder High twice a day. There are also many anglers and bargees who use the canal and towpath for both recreation and residence purposes.

Within a few months of the spring clean the towpath will again be littered with the usual mess (including many bags of dog shite) which will build up cumulatively until the next spring clean. I wonder if any council official ever walks this towpath – or indeed the parallel river walkway from HB railway station to the old Clog Factory – which is almost as well used as the towpath. Great swathes of plastic and other detritus still clutter the river bank here – residue of the floods – extending all the way to Mytholmroyd and beyond to Sowerby Bridge.

Between HB and Mytholmroyd – on both these routes - there are no waste bins. There is one at Calder Holmes Park and the next is at the rear of the doctor’s surgery at Mytholmroyd. This latter metal bin is old but well used – quite often full to overflowing. People will use these bins if they are provided, but in their absence mess inevitably ends up on the ground. The rear of Burnley Road Academy also borders this track and much litter and dog bags end up in the adjacent strip of woodland belonging to the school – often hanging from the bushes and trees.

Its ironic that there are as many, if not more, people using these tracks as there are using Calder Holmes Park and Nest Playing Fields. But these facilities are well provided with bins – and the Nest facility also offers free dog bags from stations located at the three entrances.

I repeat – when is the Council going to realise that waste bins are a necessity, not a luxury, along this towpath. It is scandalous that the Council can spend £40,000 on a PR firm to come up with an anodyne “Pretty Gritty” slogan (apparantly sunk without trace) to encourage visitors to Calderdale, only to greet them with the “Pretty S****y” mess that exists along the canal and river banks when they get here.

From Tim B

Friday, 10 March 2017

Hi Norman, unfortunately neither of the routes you refer to are anything to do with the Council. The towpath is responsibility of the Canals and Rivers Trust (charity) and the greenway alongside the river is managed by Sustrans (charity). Big Society anyone?

From Norman Yeowart

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Yes Tim - I know – and it’s the excuse I expected from the Council (are you associated with the Council by any chance?). This cop-out should not prevent action to stop this blight. I don’t believe for one moment that the Canal & Rivers Trust, or Sustrans would prefer to have potentially toxic waste littering their tracks, rather than have it cleared. The Council can install bins by agreement, and empty them on a regular basis along with their normal refuse collection regime.

So far as the towpath is concerned you can’t expect C&RT to take the initiative – they don't have facilities to empty bins and take to landfill, nor would they want to. They have a major continuing headache just to maintain the canal infrastructure. 3 or 4 bins at regular intervals would suffice for the towpath and should not cause an obstruction – there are plenty of available niches where a bin would be inobtrusive – including Council land just off the towpath (eg Hawksclough where the Hawk sculpture resides).

The railway bank bordering the greenway presumably belongs to Network Rail rather than Sustrans – and could easily accommodate a couple of bins just off the cycle track. Again - I can’t imagine the railway company having issues with that.

The cost of bins is not excessive - £150 would purchase a hooded bin and the installation could be done by the Council. In fact local businesses or charities (including Sustrans) might well sponsor a bin and get some permanent low cost advertising. I would even contribute a bin myself to get this project started !

No – the problem here is that the Council just does not have the imagination or political will to tackle the problem. (The same is true of litter in general across Calderdale, which has expanded dramatically in recent years). It is a fact that MPs get more letters complaining about litter and dog fouling than anything else.

We have a group within the Council called the Safer, Cleaner, Greener Team dedicated to exactly these sort of problems.

So – I repeat - what is preventing our elected representatives taking long overdue action on these bins ?

From Andy M

Sunday, 12 March 2017

It's hardly the council's responsibility to install and service bins outside their land and remit - particularly in these straitened times Why not direct your 'request' at the charities themselves - or join them and volunteer to clean out the bins - that's how it works.

PS I don't work for the Council ;-)

From Tim B

Monday, 13 March 2017

Hi Norman, no I don’t work for Calderdale Council. I’m not sure why you are blaming them for littering on land that is not theirs. If you are aware it is the C&RT and Sustrans/Railtrack who are responsible, why not contact them directly? Do involve the local Councillors; they should be able to help with working with other organisations.

I do agree that rubbish is an eyesore and people who drop it show a lack of respect to other people using the area. It may be that the Council does not have the imagination or political will to tackle the problem, it certainly does not have the funds to do work it is not directly responsible for.

From Norman Yeowart

Monday, 13 March 2017

To argue that the council has no responsibility for servicing these tracks is disingenuous.

These route are not your average country paths. They are very popular and busy routes between two largish towns. To argue that this is private land and nothing to do with the council is - to put it politely - taurus excretum.

Most of the citizens of Mytholmroyd & Hebden Bridge make use of these routes – plus any number of other people in Calderdale and beyond. If Sustrans and C&RT stopped anyone but cyclists and bargees from using these facilities – all hell would break loose.

The council runs the refuse and bin collection services and are authorised and responsible for collection and disposal of waste. It is arguably their most important role. They already service single bins on the towpath at Mytholmroyd and Luddendenfoot and have a bin at Redacre and at the nearby flats. So their collection service already covers some elements of the towpath and it’s environs.

The charities do not have the resources ie: trucks, drivers, permits or the remit to set up regular waste collection services. Disposal at landfill would also cost them. The council does have these resources and has access to landfill sites as part of it’s normal operation. Half a dozen extra bin loads every fortnight would have a negligible effect on council collection and disposal disposal costs.

They council cannot simply shrug off its responsibilities in this area – particularly when school kids are endangered by waste and dog mess left lying about. eg: near Burnley Road Acadamy. If ever a bin collection service was necessary it is here.

And by the way Andy M - my wife and I have cleared many sacks of waste from the towpath, Greenway and the tracks up to Woodtop – we walk these routes regularly and get sick of the escalating mess. And believe me – those sacks get heavy – dog shite weighs a ton particularly when you have to carry it for a mile or so because there are no places to bin it.

From Andy M

Monday, 13 March 2017

To be fair Norman there is a precedent from 2014 on the Rochdale canal (Dog walkers asked to take the lead) but, I imagine, since then resources to fund patrolling have dwindled and the council may have prioritised areas where it has overall responsibility.

From Richard D

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

I reguarly walk the local footpaths and canals with my dog, and often take spare bags to pick up litter as we go. I love our valley, and take some pride in doing my bit to keep it nice for others. Many other dog walkers I know do the same.

I would just urge others to do the same - what looks a mess of litter can often be quickly cleared, and with a small band of happy volunteers, the benefits would be seen immediately. As a general rule, once it's tackled, people do tend to respect the environment more.

As a town that greatly benefits from people visiting our local landscape, it would be great for the council / canals trust etc. to see the bigger picture and help keep our countryside free from litter, just as they do the streets. In the meantime, a bit of people power could make all the difference.

From Norman Yeowart

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Well done Richard. No one can doubt that individuals like yourself and the community volunteers do a sterling job.

But there many dog owners who are quite happy to pick up their dog’s mess, which is the nasty bit, but to carry it for the rest of their walk is more than they can stomach. So it ends up on the verge, in bushes, hung on trees or simply slung into the canal. In a way it’s a protest at the lack of disposal facilities. If bins were conveniently available I’m convinced most of the problem would disappear.

See below for a good example of the third world bin situation on the towpath at Mytholmroyd.

Example 1

Example 2

From E Green

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The photos are shocking! But a simple solution for all would be for dog owners to buy themselves a Dicky Bag. Keeps the poop in a sealed, smell free, hygienic carrier until they get home and saves everyone else having to clear up after them.

From Andy M

Thursday, 16 March 2017

I'm not sure how effective a Dicky Bag would be since the whole exercise of bagging and leaving - whether it's by an obviously full bin or in a tree/on a fence - appears to be one of devolvement of responsibility i.e. 'I've done my bit by bagging it now it's up to someone else dispose of.'

And its amazing how elusive the culprits are!

From Norman Yeowart

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The council are happy to provide bins in the local parks and people mainly use them – it works. Are people who use the towpath and 'devoid of responsibility' any different to these park users? I doubt it. The difference is the presence of bins.

The prospect of punishment via fines is the stick approach. It's difficult and expensive to enforce – and obviously does not work. Why not try the carrot for a change?

From Julie C

Sunday, 19 March 2017

I think the reason that the bin in the picture is unemptied is because that bit of the Canal towpath has been officially closed, so the bin workers from the Council have no access to it. Unfortunately, some people have been moving the barriers and are still walking their dogs on the towpath and using the overloaded bins.

It is particularly foolish that people persist on piling dog shit bags all around the bins especially given that there are two large regular council bins one to the right and one to the left on the road just near the towpath. Conscientious dog owners get rid of dog waste properly, the others make it a shame on everyone who walks their dogs locally.

From Norman Yeowart

Friday, 24 March 2017

That horrible bin has now been cleared, courtesy of C&R Trust. It has now been viewed 135 times – a picture is obviously worth a thousand words.

I have had correspondence with C&RT have who offered to undertake a joint initiative with the Council. I quote from their e-mail "We are always keen to work with local agencies and develop joint initiatives where possible. We are dedicated to moving forward and taking a fresh approach to find solutions to this issue"

C&RT, a charity, have hundreds of miles of canal and towpath to maintain, and can't really be expected to provide a refuse collection service on top of that. It is local residents who create most of the mess, after all, and that is squarely a local Council issue.

So far no response from Calderdale Council, who organise waste collections, or our local Councillors who I have also copied.

Those other bins mentioned by Julie C are too far from the towpath to be useful for dog walkers. It means diverting up a flight of steps onto the busy Midgley Road, with dog on lead, and walking a couple of hundred yards and then back again. Unlikely to be effective even if dog walkers know about them.

The desperate need is for bins further down the towpath ie: behind Burnley Road Academy, at Hawksclough, and beyond the canal tunnel towards Hebden Bridge.