Barlow's Beef: Are we too lazy to clean up our own mess?


As a dog owner I visit a lot of local parks and often marvel at the amount of work needed to make them such a welcome relief from the expanding urban environment. What's more astounding is the small number of staff employed to carry out this maintenance.

They must work like Trojans to keep pace with the changing seasons. I know many of the staff have dedicated most of their working lives to Cheshire East parks and gardens.

So it must be extremely demoralising for them to find the mountain of cans, cartons and general trash dumped in the parks every weekend. I counted 16 bottles left within ten paces of a waste bin today. Why anyone would throw something as dangerous as a glass bottle into long grass near a child's play area is beyond my comprehension.

I've seen dozens of canisters of what police refer to as 'legal-highs' discarded in The Carrs along with the remnants of picnic barbecues and wine bottles. As the urban sprawl intensifies our parks will be the only retreat for an increasing number of residents and unless we change our ways they'll be awash with broken glass and toxic waste.

It isn't just dog owners who leave waste behind, as any playing field will testify. The day after a football match you will find enough plastic bottles and rubbish to fill an entire lorry.

Seems like everyone expects someone else to clear their rubbish. 'They' should do something about it,' is a common complaint. I doubt anyone stops to consider that the 'they', to which they refer, are council grounds men who spend months draining and mowing the grass now used to dump trash.

The lack of respect for their endeavours must be soul destroying.

Over the summer holidays I've seen kids' play areas so festooned with broken glass, crisp packets, plastic bottles and cans I wouldn't allow my dogs near them let alone children.

Why are we desecrating our own environment? Are we too lazy to clean up our own mess or have we created a society where no one is responsible for anything and everything is someone else's fault?

I did notice on a TV programme that Chinese schools expect students to clean their own classrooms. I thought it quite a good idea until one of our park rangers told me they used to have teams of children volunteering to help litter-pick but it was considered "too demeaning".

Sometimes I do believe we have lost the plot.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Sally Hoare
Tuesday 25th August 2015 at 10:07 am
Thanks for highlighting this again, Vic. As a member of Wilmslow Cleanteam I am only too aware of this problem. CE do employ people via their contractors Ansa to deal with this, but due to thoughtless people it is getting out of control. In Wilmslow we have a dedicated group of volunteers who meet twice a month to pick litter and to try and persuade people to take their mess home. Sometimes it seems like a thankless task.
John Clegg
Wednesday 26th August 2015 at 8:57 am
When out and about, usually running, I stop to pick up rubbish. However, I feel we ought to have more/any/some recycling bins so that recyclable items can be put there.

It may not stop idiots chucking stuff into hedgerows, etc but at least there will be somewhere to put recyclable items.
Debra Conroy
Wednesday 26th August 2015 at 10:44 am
I intend to copy this article to the head teachers at ALL of the local schools, Wilmslow High School in particular since this is always a major problem during school holidays and it is therefore obvious who the culprits are. Sadly, the parents of younger children are also to blame and it is apparent that they have not been educated to clear up after themselves and they are influencing their children to behave in the same way. It is very sad for the whole of Wilmslow and the people who enjoy the park all year round in all weathers, have to suffer when the fair weather park users emerge.
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 26th August 2015 at 11:04 am
You are spot on Vic.I was the first on the original clean-up team,but it was thankless.Some years ago I wrote to Gill the Head of Wilmslow High about the litter, on school days,thrown on the ground ,between Tesco,Sainsbury's and Gregs. And the school. All the fast food outlets for children,to stuff themselves,then drop rubbish along the way. To me this is 'Citizenship,and respect. It is no good kids having 10 GCSE's,but not taught to respect the locality. As far as I am aware ,the school employed two men to clean the schools own grounds.. If still true?? How stupid is that.. As part of detention,or punishment. Children would clean up the grounds. As mentioned,the Chinese,leave us totally ,in respect,academic studies,discipline.Mostly ...'hard work'!!!!!! Now of course many of these have left school and become adults,and know no better.
Wednesday 26th August 2015 at 11:36 am
Wilmslow Clean Team do a fantastic job. Currently Waitrose has it as one of its charities, so worth getting a token. John you are correct about recycling bins. There used to be lots in the carpark, but they have now gone. Are people getting lazy? - yes! One family had parked their car in the carpark by Wilmslow Garden Centre. As I went back to my car I saw the mother open her door and place all the remains of their picnic, including empty juice bottles on the floor of the carpark. It was absolutely deliberate because they couldn't be bothered to walk the few hundred yards to the litter bin. Suffice it to say, I did say something and they did pick it up - no doubt the debris was deposited in a hedgerow nearby.
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 26th August 2015 at 11:46 am
CEC commissioned a report from ARUP to identify green field sites for housing in support of the 20 year Local Plan.
It includes the land both sides of the River Bollin from approx. Adlington Road bridge through The Carrs park to the National Trust boundary at the River Dean.
You might well laugh at this, but I'm weeping for our future in the hands of those who do not care. Will CEC listen to us, even our own WTC? Seems that they are doing everything possible not to have any consultation.
With no reports in the Library and no means of getting comments to either CEC or the Inspector being considered, then who can be content?
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 26th August 2015 at 1:17 pm
I have just watched a TV programme entitled: 'Are Our Kids Tough Enough?'

If you have not seen it it is definitely worth viewing on Catch Up or I Player

At age 14 our schoolchildren are THREE years behind the Chinese. This documentary explains why.

Here's the link:
John Clegg
Wednesday 26th August 2015 at 5:17 pm
Jackie, it's a sad thought but the sort of rubbish that is deposited in car parks by bone idle people in full view and easy walking reach of a bin points to the sort of people who may be in need of exercise in the first place - and it's a kind of natural selection.
When I'm doing my little bit to help, I often think that those people who chuck stuff out of car windows, only for it to be washed down to the Bollin and then off to sea are in the same Venn diagram overlap with people who get into a bit of a tizz about cuddly dolphins and seals choking on plastic - but that's all several thousand miles away so nothing to do with me/them.
David Hoyle
Thursday 27th August 2015 at 10:09 am
I've just been for a walk on Lindow Common.Some stupid person left two bags of poo on a bench where people have to sit.unbelievable ,some people have no consideration for other people who use the area
Colin Jones
Thursday 27th August 2015 at 3:13 pm
It's good that Vic Barlow, with his "following", writes an article like this as it brings more awareness to people of the litter problem. In general, Wilmslow is far cleaner than many other towns of similar size, locally, and maybe, nationally. That is because the rather small band of volunteers in Wilmslow Clean Team (plus those in Friends of the Carrs and in Friends of Lacey Green Park) help ANSA, the contractor to Cheshire East Council, to keep the town's public areas clean. We also know there are many people who go out on their own, litter picking e.g. on Lindow Common, the Carrs, and on the Carnival Field. Everyone's efforts are welcomed.
If anyone would like to join Wilmslow Clean Team please look at the website - Our volunteers aren't committed to regular days every month; they turn up when they can. Every bit of help is appreciated. So, it's not a "thankless task"!
Vic Barlow
Thursday 27th August 2015 at 3:32 pm
I agree Wilmslow does better than a lot of towns mainly due to 'volunteers'.

There is a BIG education programme needed.

We need to make it a social taboo.

I like the idea of students cleaning their own schools.
Pete Taylor
Thursday 27th August 2015 at 9:41 pm
If, as you claim on the Alderley Edge website, you take out extra bags to clean up other dog-owner's mess; I suggest that you take a couple of bin bags if you plan to visit Lindow Common.
Friday 28th August 2015 at 11:03 am
Pete - not just Lindow Common, the Bollin Valley and Wilmslow generally.