Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Fines could be used to tackle littering problem in meadows

Fines could be used to tackle littering problem in meadows

PEOPLE could be fined for littering two riverside beauty spots in Henley.

The town council is considering the move due to the growing problem in Mill and Marsh Meadows, which are popular with visitors and locals.

The most serious incident happened in April when Marsh Meadows was left strewn with rubbish after a Sikh festival celebration attended by hundreds of people and residents complained about the area being used as a toilet.

The then Mayor Kellie Hinton pledged that the council would take action.

A meeting of the council’s recreation and amenities committee on Tuesday heard that it may possible to fine offenders.

Town clerk Janet Wheeler said: “I need to find out what the procedure is.”

She added that some other councils had staff who wore body cameras as part of their uniforms.

The committee agreed to investigate the cost of having a security company or a park ranger on high volume weekends to manage crowds and antisocial behaviour and also to install more bins.

Members also want to investigate the possibility of installing more CCTV at the meadows after 55 per cent of respondents to an online survey said they wanted the measure.

The day after the Vaisakhi festival residents were horrified to find piles of bin bags full of rubbish and litter all over the grass along with used barbecues, bottles and food as well as plastic drifting down the Thames.

Dog walkers said it was unsafe to let their pets off the lead because of the broken glass and chicken bones left on the ground.

A report to the committee said that the good weather since this event had meant the meadows were busier than normal, causing a litter problem.

Members agreed to install five extra 145-litre bins along the towpath. The exact locations will be chose by parks services staff who will also empty them. The bins cost about £450 each so the purchase will need to be approved by the finance committee.

Members also agreed to remove the large wooden bin between Mill and Marsh Meadows and replace it with a skip-style bin and replace two wooden bins in Marsh Meadows with smaller green ones.

Plaques asking people to dispose of their rubbish properly would then be placed on all the 22 bins on the towpath and six barbecue stumps as well as on the two green bins.

Staff at the visitor information kiosk in Mill Meadows will be provided with extra bin bags.

The committee also agreed to write a letter to the Henley Standard appealing for residents to help form a meadows user group.

Councillor Sam Evans told the committee: “I’m delighted that we’re finally talking about this and talking about it properly.

“Year on year on year, the problem has got worse. We almost look forward to the winter months when it’s raining and cold.

“This is about protecting dogs and children. It is about us protecting and looking after the jewel in the crown — Mill and Marsh Meadows.

“This has nothing to do with a Sikh holiday or any other religious festival. It’s prevention rather than cure.

“I’m down there six days a week minimum and the situation is disgusting, Something has got to change — this has been going on for years and years.”

An online survey on how to keep the meadows clean showed that 44 out of 340 respondents had volunteered to help and nine business offered to fund the cost of signage with some form of sponsorship. Click here to view the survey results and click here for the comments made by survey respondents.

Janet Wood, of Boston Road, who helped set up the survey with fellow resident Karen  Morris, of Park Road, wanted the best for the meadows and for the council and residents to work together.

Councillor Sarah Miller thanked her, saying: “We want to see something done and done quickly.”

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