Big Society, when? – if ever

Having spent the late morning and early afternoon delivering newsletters, it occurs to me that if David Cameron’s Big Society idea is to work, it needs to start at the lowest possible level and that’s you and me.  Well meaning, movers and shakers getting together to form action groups have their place, but there’s already plenty of those around.

I spent part of New Year’s eve picking up rubbish around our main communal area in Wygate Park, the neighbourhood shopping area.  It would of been great if this didn’t need doing because people thought about what they were doing to the place where they live and took their rubbish home with them. The problem is, they don’t actually live there, where the shops are, they live in the nearby streets and roads, so it appears to be a case of out of sight is out of mind.

However, my trip around the local streets suggests that this attitude also applies closer to homes, at least for some people.   As well general rubbish either dumped in the front of down the side of houses, there was also litter and refuse lying in gutters or on communal grassed areas.

If the Big Society idea is going to work, this sort of local mess just should not happen, with local people seeing it as their role to clean it up.  They shouldn’t be waiting for the council to do it or, worse still, not even noticing it’s there.

The Big Society can only become a real success if individuals start to play a role in making their communities nicer places to live and I think that may well take a lot longer than David Cameron thinks it will.

What a load of rubbish!

31st Dec – Having become totally disgusted at the state of Wygate Park, I went on a litter pick this afternoon.  I was hoping to do a much larger area than I finally managed, mainly due to the shear volume of rubbish I encountered.

2½ hours and 3 large black bags filled and only one side of the road between Claudette Ave and Mariette Way covered. The other side of the road, from Wedgewood Drive to the Woolram Wygate junction, was completed today.  It took a good 3 hours and generated a further 3 large bags of rubbish.  Before and after photos of one small area are attached below, just to prove I was there and did make a bit of a difference!

Most of us think of litter as a town centre problem, because that’s where lots of people go to shop, socialise (drink!) and eat.  Unfortunately, my recent rambles through the brambles, suggests a different and depressing story.

Litter is a poor way to describe the stuff that blights our streets and parks, as it makes it sound like just a few bits of paper and the odd cigarette butt – not so.  As well as the obligatory soft drink cans, sweet wrappers and crisp bags, there were a very high number of beer bottles and cans.  See photo below.

Also, I was amazed at the number half full bottles of water I found in the trees and bushes.  I can only think that the drunken louts who throw them away, just can’t be bothered carrying them all the way to the dumps they call home.  Remember, this is not a town centre location it’s where most of those who have caused this mess actually live. Put crudely it’s called, cr***ing on your own doorstep!  The vast majority of the non-alcoholic rubbish comes from a single source and I will be again asking them to do more to deal with the fallout from their trading.

Rubbish dump

Before

Planted area after rubbish cleared

After

High level of beer cans and bottels

Selection of bottles and cans recovered

Rural rail fares are a scandal

Just after Christmas I dropped a couple of Christmas visitors off at Spalding railway station so that they could go in to Peterborough.  The fare for 2 people, one-way, £13!

Driving distance to Peterborough 20 miles.  Average miles per gallon on a modern car to be 35mpg, call it 30mpg to allow for stop start traffic once you are in town.  Petrol is currently £1.25 a litre so that’s about £5.70 to cover 30 miles.  Even if you then add on £5 for parking, making it a total of £10.70, you still don’t get close to the excessive cost of £13 for 2 people to travel 20 miles by train.  Travelling by car, a family of 4 would be quids in!

Is it any wonder our roads are becoming more and more congested?  Worse still, we have yet to see what happens when rail fares increase by another 6.2% in the New Year!