Northants Litter Wombles secure ‘litter summit’ with government in hope of ‘moving forward together’
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The Northants Litter Wombles have secured a ‘litter summit’ with the government, in the hope of “moving forward together” and “opening the dialogue” on the national issue.
The group, which has around 3,500 members and has collected 68,000 bags of litter to date, first put the wheels in motion when they were invited to Parliament back in June.
With the hope of tackling the “slippery slope” littering issue across the county and beyond, the Northants Litter Wombles approached Andrew Lewer MP for the opportunity to meet and express their concerns.
This dialogue began earlier in the year when the group’s chair, Sally Romain, spoke to this newspaper about her growing concerns about the “deeply embarrassing” littering on the county’s main A roads.
There was representation from all the Northants Litter Womble groups, across Northampton, Kettering, Corby, Daventry and Brackley, in the hope of inspiring those in power to undertake steps against the growing problem.
A date has now been agreed for the litter summit and after being invited by Andrew Lewer MP, the Wombles will have the chance to meet with environment minister Rebecca Pow on October 24.
Those in power will be asked what they have done since the Parliament visit in June, as well as what they plan to do next.
MPs and councillors from across Northamptonshire, including Sir Michael Ellis, Andrew Lewer MP and Councillor Phil Larratt, will be in attendance.
Alison McClean, events coordinator for the Northants Litter Wombles, told the Chronicle & Echo: “We gave them a list of the things we needed from them back in June. The summit is to see what they’ve done and what they plan to do.”
Alison shared that, on a national level, contractors need to be held to account and ensure they maintain their responsibility of keeping the A roads and motorways litter-free.
“The A roads in Northamptonshire are so heavily littered,” she added. “We want everyone to work together and stop passing the buck.
“We aren’t allowed on those roads, and we shouldn’t be anyway as contractors are paid to do it.”
Another hope is getting the local councils to reverse the removal of local bins.
Alison said: “We hope they will reinstate litter bins where we say they’re needed, as we’re the ones on the ground and we know where the hotspots are.”
The group would also like to see the introduction of a national anti-littering campaign, which could see a public information film produced.
“Fly tipping is one of the massive things we’re concerned about,” said Alison. “We want to press them about the enforcement of laws. What are the deterrents? What are they doing to stop it and prosecute people?”
Though Alison says she and the group members do not expect change to happen overnight, they want to see the start of a conversation – making it clear that those in power are aware of the issue and want to do something about it.
Alison suggested that installing CCTV could be the way forward in the long-term, having been promised that permanent CCTV is going to be installed at Sixfields Reservoir.
“It’s a massive stride forward,” she said. “Public bins also need to be installed, which is a cheap, short-term fix.”
The hope for October is that the government will have considered what the Northants Litter Wombles first proposed and will have come up with ideas about how everyone can move forward.
Alison said: “We want to move forward together and open that dialogue.”
The Northants Litter Wombles already have monthly meetings with West Northamptonshire Council to discuss the issue, but would like to see the introduction of a twice-yearly larger meeting with all Northants MPs.
These meetings would establish what is working well and areas of improvement that need addressing.
“We know the Wombles are very well respected,” said Alison. “It’s proven with all the work we’ve done and the 68,000 bags we’ve collected.
“We want to keep putting pressure on, but work with them collaboratively.”