Volunteers out and about cleaning up the riverside and South Ockendon

A BRIGHT sunny morning, the first of a new month, saw volunteers on Grays Riverside mounting their latest litterpick.

The Grays Beachcombers meet regularly at points along the river in Thurrock and do their best to clean up, concentrating mainly on larger pieces of litter and bottles – and the scourge of plastic bottles – they have collected tens of thousands pf them so far.

The plastic stems of cotton buds are washed up in their tens of thousands – but millions more drift down the river into the sea.

As volunteer Clive explains in the video, it’s impossible to do a total job, there’s so many small pieces of litter including huge amounts of tiny bits of plastic. Because of time and resources, they also have to concentrate on the riverside, Clive is pictured adjacent to piles of litter in the nearby car park.

Though the team are supported by Thurrock Council, who collect the bags of accumulated litter, the group feels the council could do so much more.

“It may not be their riverside in terms of being a statutory obligation but they have a moral duty to do more but I’m afraid they don’t seem bothered about it so we do what we can. It would be nice if they could put some more resources in, though sometimes they try and get it wrong,” one volunteer told Thurrock Independent editor Neil Speight.

“For example they have spent thousands on thousands on the big belly litter bins which are technology driven and in my opinion a total waste of money. They send an email to tell the council when they are full, but they might not get emptied straight away or the council might send out a van to do it, emptying just one bin while others in the area aren’t full and so don’t get visited.

“It is a scatter-brained way of deploying resources and spending money. If we had a key to the bins we could empty them. Sometimes simple is best but then it doesn’t make for fancy headlines.”

After their efforts the volunteers were rewarded with refreshments and a bacon butty at the nearby Lightship Cafe, another resource run in Grays for the local community by volunteers.

And the good news is, it’s a growing bunch with first time volunteer Emma Phillips telling us why she joined the group, who meet on the first Sunday of the month.

Mr Speight said: “What a terrific group of people, summing up all that’s good in our community and using action rather than just words. A pleasure to meet them and see the fruits of their labours, though I’m not sure it was equally appreciated by the two lads sat on the river wall having a couple of joints and a few glasses of vodka – but then each to their own!”

The litter pickers in South Ockendon

Volunteer litter-picking groups are growing throughout the borough. Also in action on Sunday were a team in South Ockendon made up of members of the local residents association and local cubs as and they cleaned up across the local community including shops on Canterbury parade and around the station.

And the Friends of Aveley Rec have a litter pick planned for Saturday (7 July) at the park from 10am to noon.

To find out more about Grays Beachcombers, visit: http://www.riversidecommunity.org.uk/category/projects/beachcombers/