We did it! After a call to arms to be proud of Bury St Edmunds, our mass community clean up has ensured the ‘jewel in the crown of Suffolk’ keeps shining.
With the help of community leaders, neighbourhood groups, school pupils and council staff, litter picks organised by the Bury Free Press are sweeping through the town’s estates.
Following a recent spate of vandalism in the town centre, we kick-started the Let’s Be Proud of Bury campaign to inspire others to take care of our street scene.
Today communities rallied round with equipment provided by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
On the Howard estate, pupils from the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust, Asda staff and Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants, joined forces with Paul Derrick, head of news content at the Bury Free Press, and sport reporter Sam Murley.
Mr Broom said: “It’s a wonderful idea. It makes the place look so much better and hopefully we’re sending out a message, which people will hopefully listen to. The only way is to teach by example - if we can get the kids to start picking up. It’s a wonderful estate and it makes it so much better for everyone if there’s no litter lying about.”
Vicky Neale, head at the Academy Trust’s County Upper School, said: “Young people care passionately about the environment both in terms of what we are doing to our planet and about their local area. The All-Through Trust’s values include the importance of community and the clean up is a great example of that in action. Pupils from the Trust schools have therefore been pleased to work together in different locations across the town today.”
At the Tayfen Spring Lane reserve, King Edward VI students, Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, Borough Cllr Robert Everitt and waste campaigner Karen Cannard joined reporter Emma Lake.
Mr Ruffley said: “The campaign has been a powerful reminder to all those who live in Bury and love Bury that we have to set ourselves high standards and keep those standards up.
“The students obviously understand the importance of why we need a clean and tidy environment - all of us need to be aware of that.”
Mrs Cannard said: “It was great! It just shows that the Bury Free press campaign has done something for the community, something anybody can get involved in no matter what age. It’s been great to have the support of the King Edward VI students today.”
Cllr Everitt said: “It’s what a strong community is all about - it’s what makes Bury stand out.”
On the Mildenhall Road estate, seven Havebury Housing Partnership staff turned out plus two from their contractor Ground Control with reporter John Henderson. Among the more unusual items found were a kettle, a native American dream catcher and a One Direction bag.
John Feveyear, Havebury’s neighbourhood communities coordinator, said: “I think its great we had such a good response but I’m also pleased at how good the estate looks.
“It goes with the territory that when you’ve got shops and a lot of traffic it tends to go with litter, but it’s surprising there’s not a lot about here.”
The Southgate community came together for a litter pick a couple of weeks ago which was very successful and filled almost 20 bags.
Today’s BFP clean-up built on the success of that and was able to target known problem areas.
As well as a variety of empty cans, bottles and wrappers, the group - consisting of Cllr Patrick Chung, Cllr Sarah Stamp, BFP reporter Laura Smith and a number of the estate’s residents - found a trolley in the woods off Grange Walk, cardboard boxes, dog faeces, shattered glass and discarded household items.
Peter Boyt, who has lived in the area for 30 years, said: “I just don’t like litter lying around. It looks untidy and spoils the look of the place.”
He added: “Standards have dropped, people don’t care but if they see others walking around collecting rubbish maybe some of them will have a conscience.”
Cllr Sarah Stamp said: “I think it’s really important because it’s just a case of collecting the mess, it’s about making people accept and take responsibility for their actions and about educating younger people.”
Litter is one of the issues being discussed by Southgate’s newly formed residents group, the Nowton Estate and Surrounding Areas Residents’ Association, on Monday.
The meeting will be the group’s first and will take place at the Southgate Community Centre at 7.30pm. All are encouraged to attend.
Of today’s litter pick, Cllr Stamp said: “It’s always good to see members of the community come together and I’m pleased to see how much pride there is in the area and how much community support there still is, and I guess the residents’ association is a sign of that.”
This afternoon four more litter picks took place across the town.
In Horringer students from Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust, members of the Horringer Residents Association and Cllrs Sarah Stamp and Patrick Chung joined reporter Emma Lake to clean play areas, fields and green space in the community. The group found the expected sweet and crisp wrappers but also, concerning, several broken glass bottles in areas where children play,
Cllr Chung said: “It’s lovely. I’m delighted to have been a part of this - it has been nice to see the children who take part to learn the looking after their environment.”
Pupils from Abbots Green Community Primary School joined forces with volunteers from Christ Church and Woodland Ways, Cllrs Frank and Pat Warby and Peter Thompson today to help clean up Moreton Hall.
Of the BFP day of action, Pat Warby said: “I think it’s an excellent idea. I’d like to see more of the peripheral areas organising their own litter picks and more of the community getting involved. It shows we take pride in where we live.”
Frank Warby said: “It shows community spirit and getting the kids involved gives them an idea of what the shouldn’t be doing on their way home from school, chucking litter on the floor.”
Items retrieved from the area, which included Symonds Road and Pond Covert, included broken glass, cigarette lighters, cans, plastic bottles, wrappers, part of a bench and even a used condom.
Mike Ryall learnt about the litter pick in Christ Church’s newsletter and decided to get involved.
He said: “The church wants to be more involved in the community and do more to benefit the community and this is an obvious way of doing that.”
Members of the groceries online department at Sainsbury’s got involved in a second litter pick on Moreton Hall, collecting rubbish from the woods behind the store and along Bedingfeld and Skyliner Way.
Online manager Mike McKinstry said: “We wanted to do something as a team and give something back to our local community, and this was great because we could actually see the benefit of what we were doing.”
Some of the more unusual items they collected included a number of posters, socks, rubber gloves, vehicle parts and scrap metal.
The team were so pleased with their success today that they are planning to organise more litter picks in the near future. They will be looking at villages on their delivery routes to see which would benefit most from their efforts.
Pupils from the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust were also out in force in the area around Westley Middle School with reporter John Henderson.
The enthusiastic group cleared a variety of rubbish from the area leaving it safer and more appealing.
The BFP team would like to thank everyone who made today a huge success. Your enthusiasm and hard work is what made this ambitious project possible.
Our campaign coincides with Local Newspaper Week which this year has the theme of making a difference.