This time of year is often blessed with hot sunny days and long warm evenings when everyone can get out and enjoy the natural beauty of Sudbury’s wonderful riverside. How very fortunate the town is to still have such a stunning amenity available at a stone’s throw.
However, the hot weather brings mixed fortunes for the rangers. Far be it to pour cold water on people’s enjoyment but it is very true to say that as the mercury soars so does the litter problem and this litter is left strewn wherever people settle to have a snack, picnic or BBQ.
So what is the solution? There are laws which could be used to fine people for leaving litter but this very rarely, if ever, happens in our society. The answer, therefore, is to pick it up and clear it away. In their time the riverside rangers have cleared many tonnes of rubbish but, fortunately, they are ably assisted by volunteers who are not prepared to see their local environment disfigured by thoughtless behaviour. It is indeed thoughtless behaviour to arrive at a pristine location and leave it tarnished with trash. Many times the rangers have been told by these people that it gives them a job. Actually, there is plenty of conservation and amenity management to be getting on with without having to clear up other people’s rubbish. Sudbury is fortunate to have some stalwart litter pickers and in the past the Sudbury Common Lands Charity has tried to recognise their efforts by nominating them for a Babergh community award but awards for clearing litter are not too newsworthy so the efforts of those wonderful individuals continues to go unsung even though they are not asking for any kind of recognition.
There are those who call for more bins and more rangers to keep on top of a problem that occurs only briefly each year, albeit at a time when everyone is out and about to see the disfigurement of the riverside and Friars Meadow in particular. The Friars Meadow bins are emptied three times a week during the summer season on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as well as on bank holiday Sundays. However, one small group with a ‘takeaway’ can leave enough rubbish to fill a bin within a few hours of it having been emptied.
Most people are, by now, aware that all councils are cash-strapped so a call for yet more bins and more rangers is totally unrealistic. So what could be done? For a good number of years householders have been encouraged to recycle rubbish and yet those people taking full ‘takeaways’, BBQs, bottles and cans of drink and other food-stuffs with endless packaging to Friars Meadow rarely recycle anything. Perhaps the time has come for a change in attitude. Perhaps the time has come for those people who arrive with a full and heavy load to leave the riverside with an empty and lighter load for recycling either in their own bins or at the facility to the rear of the Kingfisher leisure complex. Babergh has provided signs requesting everyone to consider these options. Perhaps the time has arrived for every single riverside user to play a part in helping to maintain this unique environment so that everyone can enjoy it.