Making our streets cleaner

We have thrown down the gauntlet to challenge individuals, community groups, schools and businesses to take greater pride in ‘Our Streets’ and join forces to work together to keep them clean and tidy.

Councillor Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure and the local environment, explained:

“We face a constant battle to keep our streets clean, and it is a battle that we cannot win without the public’s help. That’s why we have issued the ‘Our Streets’ challenge – we want people to take pride in where they live, to think twice before they throw litter on the ground and to take action if they see litter.

“Litter is everyone’s problem – we need to tackle it together. If everyone picked up just one piece of litter every day, think of the difference it would make.

“Better still why not become a litter hero by becoming a Street Champion, joining a local litter pick or even organising your own event. Working together we can look after ‘Our Streets’ and make them litter-free.”

At the same time, due to cuts to the Council’s budget, we are unable to do as much as we once did to maintain grass verges and open spaces. Grass cutting is now carried out every 25-30 working days, between March and November – previously it was every 15 working days.

Many local residents and businesses have already stepped in to help look after verges near their home or premises. Can you follow their lead and do you bit to help by keeping the verge near you tidy and clear of litter, or by cutting the grass? Cuttings can be left on the verges to compost back into the soil.

We’d also urge people to avoid parking on grass verges, where possible. This will help to prevent damage and make them easier to maintain.

See below for more information about ways you can help look after ‘Our Streets’ and don’t forget to tell us, and others, about your efforts on social media using the #OurStreets tag. 

Report online

You can report environmental issues such as broken glass, dog fouling and fly tipping online.

How to organise a litter pick

We all have a role to play in keeping our streets free from litter. Despite the threat of fines and the harm being done to the environment, some people continue to litter. By organising a litter pick in the area where you live, work or study you could make a real difference to your neighbourhood.

The demand for help from Street Scene is always high so we can’t attend all litter picks but we will try to support you as much as we can. The following may help you arrange your pick:

Before you get started

  1. Choose a location, date and time – make sure you know who owns the land and have their permission if it’s privately owned. Choose a day and time when you are likely to get the most volunteers

  2. Have a look around the area before the pick takes place so you can see any potential hazards

  3. Getting public liability insurance in case there is any accidental damage or injury is highly recommended. Your household insurance may cover you so you need to check your policy. If not, then an organisation like a parish council, school or community group may have insurance in place which you can use if they get involved. There is more about insurance on the Big Tidy Up website [external link]

  4. Equipment – we have a number of litter pickers and bags which we can lend to groups. Contact us on 01325 405111. Your local councillor can also get you some equipment if you let them know what you are planning.

On the day

  1. Make sure everyone is aware of any potential hazards you have identified

  2. Make sure everyone has the right equipment, gloves and is dressed appropriately

  3. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The ratio of children to adults varies on age. More information at www.nspcc.org.uk [external link]

  4. Be considerate – don’t disturb animals or damage plants. Don’t remove ‘natural’ rubbish like logs, stones and weeds

  5. Avoid danger – don’t go in rivers or stretches of water and don’t pick up drug-related litter. Let us know where it is and we will come and get it.

  6. If you discover large areas of graffiti let us know – we have specialist equipment to remove it quickly and safely.

After the event

  1. If you have a lot of rubbish and you are unable to take it to the Household Waste Recycling Centre, contact us on 01325 405111 and we will arrange to come and pick it up (you many need to store it overnight)

  2. If we have supplied you with stickers to put on your black sacks, you can leave them by your wheeled bin for collection

  3. Share your story on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #ourstreets and don’t forget to tag Darlington Borough Council in so we can help you inspire others to take part

The advice above is very general and does not cover all aspects of litter picking. There is more detailed advice here  www.thebigtidyup.org [external link] and www.keepbritaintidy.org [external link] There is also more information on the Litterfree Durham site [external link].

Street Champions

There are a lot of Street Champions out there who, on a regular basis, carry out litter picks in their neighbourhood and generally help our Street Scene staff keep areas of the town clean and tidy. Would you like to do the same? If so, please contact us on 01325 405111 and we will provide you with all the advice and equipment you need to make a real difference to where you live.

The council is also keen to hear from any other individuals, or groups, who are regular litter pickers and have not previously registered as Street Champions to get in touch to access support.

A simple questionnaire has been created that can be completed in just a few minutes, or if you prefer you can contact us by telephone or email.

To complete the questionnaire online visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/street_champions alternatively call 01325 406665 or email streetscene@darlington.gov.uk.

Friends groups

There are numerous community and friends groups who meet regularly and arrange litter picks in support of their Street Scene teams. Over the past few years several Friends of the Parks groups have been set up, many work in partnership with Groundwork West Durham and Darlington [external link]. Look up green groups in our clubs and society directory