The easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures has seen an influx of volunteers offering to help keep Blackpool tidy.
Blackpool Council has been working alongside a community of volunteers for a number of years and, following the recent launch of a brand new anti-littering campaign, has been urging residents and visitors to respect their surroundings and dispose of their own litter responsibly.
A number of posters and digital advertisements with the caption “Don’t be a scruff, bin your stuff” have now been installed on bus and tram shelters along Blackpool Promenade. The aim is for the campaign to become a town-wide initiative which will tackle community area hotspots, parks and green spaces.
The council’s Street Cleansing team undertakes a multitude of services across the town, including emptying bins regularly and ensuring that the beach and its steps are cleaned daily, as well as performing inspections and cleaning operations in residential areas, the town centre and in open spaces such as the Promenade.
With over 250 large capacity bins positioned along the Promenade alone, beachgoers are reminded that there is simply no excuse for littering. If a bin is found to be full, people are advised to take their rubbish to the next bin or take it home with them. To further discourage littering, a public address service is in regular operation, with loudspeaker systems prompting people to dispose of their litter as soon as possible.
Efforts to ensure the town’s open spaces remain free of litter have been assisted in no small part by an army of volunteers, over 330 of whom have been carrying out litter picking across Blackpool.
Local resident Steven King is just one of the many kind-hearted volunteers who has been helping out. Steven set up the Facebook group The Big Blackpool Beach Clean, which aims to clean and protect Blackpool’s beaches, following encouragement from his friends.
Steven said: “I go out litter-picking for around 8 hours per week on average, mainly in the summertime, and I’ve been doing so since I was a teenager. I keep an eye on the tide times, waiting until later on in the evening when everyone has started to leave.
“I enjoy walking down Blackpool Promenade. I take a bag and some gloves and spend some time clearing up, and I’ve recently been joined by both friends and volunteers who have got in touch through the Facebook group.
“I was shocked by the positive response. There’s a real community developing – around 350 people joined the group in the space of 24 hours. Every time I check the page, there are people offering to help collect litter. It really is fantastic.”
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, Steven hopes that people continue to show respect for Blackpool’s coastline: “When it’s safe for more people to return to Blackpool’s beaches, I just hope that they are responsible. There is no excuse for littering – it is so easy dispose of litter correctly.”
Members from the council’s Street Cleansing team, Craig and Steve, also recently gave up their own time to support The Big Blackpool Beach Clean, taking a waste truck down to the Promenade to help Steven and the group in their dedicated efforts.
Local businesses are also contributing to the ongoing effort, with both the Winter Gardens and the Elgin Hotel recently offering the services of furloughed staff for participation in volunteer litter picking events. Blackpool Council has distributed a number of litter picking packs to both sets of staff members, as well as to volunteer residents. Each pack contains a litter picker, a bag hoop, gloves and a Keep Blackpool Tidy vest. Approximately 120 have been issued over the last few weeks.
The existing Keep Blackpool Tidy campaign is a collaborative effort involving Blackpool Council, local residents, schools and businesses. It forms part of a wider partnership with Keep Britain Tidy, an independent charity which aims to eliminate litter, reduce unnecessary waste and improve local environments.
Recent activity as part of the Keep Blackpool Tidy campaign includes the addition of more bins to Blackpool’s streets, the introduction of £80 litter fines and the organisation of litter picking events across the town, which are set to resume as soon as it is safe to do so.
Cllr Jim Hobson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member responsible for the Environment and Climate Change, said: “It’s fantastic to witness all these wonderful groups contributing towards keeping Blackpool tidy. Littering not only spoils the views of our open spaces, but it also damages both the environment and the wildlife that inhabit it.
“I applaud the efforts of the council teams and the many dedicated volunteers. However, we also need to remind people that, first and foremost, it is their own responsibility to dispose of their litter in the correct manner – please look after Blackpool.”
Residents looking to get involved with the Keep Blackpool Tidy campaign are invited to register their interest at www.blackpool.gov.uk/KBT, where they can request a free litter picking action pack and sign up to receive the latest news.
When picking up litter in your own street or public area, please remember to follow the latest government guidelines. Keep a safe distance away from others and wash your hands regularly.