Northampton volunteers told they cannot use recycling centre on same road they clean

The Chronicle & Echo payed Wendy and Ian a visit on Friday where more rubbish has been dumped down Lower Ecton Lane. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds.
The Chronicle & Echo payed Wendy and Ian a visit on Friday where more rubbish has been dumped down Lower Ecton Lane. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds.

A group of volunteer litter pickers have been told they cannot use the recycling centre - on the same road they spend countless hours cleaning.

Husband and wife Ian and Wendy Stephens have been cleaning up their village, alongside a bigger team of litter pickers, since they moved to Ecton in 2012.

This pile of rubbish was collected in March 2018.

This pile of rubbish was collected in March 2018.

But having noticed the state of a nearby road, they have widened their parameters to Lower Ecton Lane and in just one month they cleared up 2,500 bin bags of rubbish. They have even helped to secure successful fly-tipping prosecutions.

The major litter picking purge has not stopped with the small team picking up fast-food containers strewn across the side of the road, now Ian uses his pick-up truck to shift white goods dumped in the ditches, too. On one occasion the couple found a deceased dog inside a plastic bin bag.

As of October 1, 2018, people had to apply for an e-permit from Northamptonshire County Council as part of a new scheme, which started at all household waste recycling centres.

The e-permit scheme, which is free of charge, was brought in to limit the amount of times people could use commercial-type vehicles or cars towing trailers to bring their household waste to the centres in a year.

Ian and Wendy volunteer to clean up the neighbouring street to their village every week.

Ian and Wendy volunteer to clean up the neighbouring street to their village every week.

Since October the volunteers, who clean the same road Ecton Lane Recycling Centre is on, are only allowed to access the centre six times a year, as part of the e-permit system.

The month prior, the volunteers collected 77 bags of rubbish and say they visited the recycling centre 10 times - for the benefit of their community.

After the permit was brought in, Waste Management at Northamptonshire County Council has told them that they have to contact Wellingborough Norse in the first instance and only take the rubbish to the recycling centre if Norse cannot collect within a 'reasonable timescale'.

Wendy said: "We have a truck load and we end up having to place it at the side of the road and wait for Norse to be ready to come.

Wheels and white goods were among the mess ditched near the recycling centre on Friday morning.

Wheels and white goods were among the mess ditched near the recycling centre on Friday morning.

"It's usually Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday when we are available to litter pick, so bless them, it's usually Monday or Tuesday before they can come and pick it up.

"By which time the foxes, the badgers and the two legged varieties search through it to see what's there. It would be good if we could take it down there really - it makes it easier."

Although they have a good working relationship with Wellingborough Norse, who provide them with litter picking bags, they are now calling for discretionary access to the recycling centre for the village volunteers.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “We have been in liaison with the couple regarding the e-permits scheme, as recently as last month and dating back to September 2018.

Ian and Wendy's efforts - among many other volunteers - has given Ecton a good sense of community spirit.

Ian and Wendy's efforts - among many other volunteers - has given Ecton a good sense of community spirit.

“We have given discretionary visits for Ms Stephens to enable litter to be taken to Ecton Lane Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) using the e-permit system.

“However the first option should be to contact Wellingborough Norse to request for the bags of litter to be collected. Ms Stephens has been made aware of this.

“Wellingborough Norse are aware and in agreement and they will collect the bags of litter as soon as reasonably possible. We have also explained that any flytipping should be left in situ and reported to Wellingborough Norse so that it can be properly investigated.

“The council has aimed to find a reasonable solution which supports Ms Stephens’ community work, without creating a loop-hole in the e-permits system.

“The HWRCs are provided for Northamptonshire’s residents to take their household waste and the sites are not permitted to accept all wastes.

“The county council works in partnership with the district and borough councils to provide a comprehensive portfolio of waste services.”

In response, Ian said: "We don’t agree that fly tipping should be left when it’s quick and simple for us to take to the tip.

"We simply want to keep our lane clean of car-thrown rubbish and fly tipping then take it 400 meters to the tip.

"Norse do help, but it can be days before they pick up a few bags, when we are happy to tip them."