Firstly, we met at Stone Crossing, and carried out a two-hour litterpick. We recovered a massive 60 sacks of litter, and as usual, had a great time doing so. A full report can be read here.
Secondly, I wrote an open letter on the DLP website, which aggregated the views of the dozens of people I have met and spoken to over the last nine months during our litterpicks. Whilst the words were written by myself, I have every confidence that they reflect the honest-held views of the people who have supported the group. This letter can be read here.
Thirdly, I received an email from the Dartford Borough Council Leader, Jeremy Kite, who has indicated that he is strongly in favour of doing business with us. He posted on the DLP Facebook page (apologies for it being difficult to search and find it – it’s Facebook’s layout, not mine). The crux of Mr. Kite’s message is in the final paragraph:
If a group of DLP would like to accept my invite, I will create and resource a DBC group – involving the Council and you – to look at all our policies – from the big stuff like tackling commercial flytipping through to the neighbourhood response to dirty streets and paths. I’ll commit senior people to it if you could spare some people too and we’ll have a totally open and fresh look at everything we do. There’s no need for it to become bureaucratic. We’ll get the facts about what we do, the facts about what we’re facing and together come up with solid plans, new ideas and real policies to tackle it. Believe me, you’re pushing at an open door with me. Would anybody be interested?
The answer from myself is a resounding ‘yes‘. Ideally, I’d like to go back to Mr. Kite with a group of people who can contribute to this work, and help the Council and the community form its plans for addressing the litter in our borough. Obviously, any ideas are at a formative stage. We have yet to see what kind of policies and plans DBC have, or would be looking to implement (or remove). With regard to the issue of being a funded group, I’m consciously aware that we are a small and relatively new group whose immediate tasks can be accomplished with a relatively small amount of equipment, and a light amount of cheap rubble sacks, so I’m hesitant to recommend the flow of any public funds our way. However, this, as well as everything else covered in Mr Kite’s email, is something for us to decide as a group.
Could I ask you to do a few easy things? They won’t take much time:
- Please read my open letter and Mr Kite’s response.
- Please think carefully about how permanent change could be made. Volunteer litterpicking is the final, unwanted solution, after all. Waste products should be managed somehow long before citizens take matters into their own hands.
- Please contribute to the discussion. Our litterpicks remove a relatively small amount of litter every few weeks. We can however, talk about litter to our neighbours, friends, colleagues, and strangers via social media. Our public officials live, work, and tweet among us, so they’re listening, too. The #KeepDartfordClean hashtag (thanks Andy Clark!) can be used to tag discussions on social media.
- Please reply to this email with your thoughts and ideas, and/or forward it to your friends and neighbours in the Dartford borough. It makes no difference whether they’re a Litterpicker or not – we all deserve a cleaner environment. Mr Kite is looking for a group of people with ideas, and I am certain that he will get one.
In the meantime, thank you again for your support and another great morning picking litter.