Like many readers of  Newton News I was full of indignation after reading about Greenfield School advertising for a Litter Picker who would be paid £2,800 per year to remove litter dropped by the students. The sentiments expressed by the writer, Pat Nash, would be shared by most people who read the article.

But on reflection, is the Head Teacher of Greenfield only acting responsibly? He has recognised and accepted there is a litter problem in the vicinity of his school. As Head teacher he is not directly responsible for the litter left lying outside of the school nor is he responsible for picking it up. The easy solution would be to chase his Councillor to have the litter removed or to contact the Council himself but instead he is taking action to solve it.

Students should not drop litter but sadly some do and I must emphasise NOT ALL. Students are told not to litter from Durham County Council ‘Pride Team Officers’ – and hear presentations from LitterFreeDurham. I doubt if there was ever a generation of young people who were so well informed about environmental problems – climate change, depletion of species, the Ozone layer, just to name a few, and yet some seem oblivious to the problem and consequences of littering in terms of cost, the devastation to our animal and marine populations and the detrimental effect to the appearance of our towns and countryside. As Chair of LitterFreeDurham, I am pleased there are many who are conscious of the problem and are active in helping to keep their community clean.

We read in the Newton News about Community Groups and schools organising a litter pick in Newton Aycliffe. They all should be congratulated for the work  they have done. Thanks also to Newton Aycliffe Youth Council who have spent a lot of their time going into schools to talk about the need to stop littering and we were delighted when St Mary’s R.C Primary School and Woodham Academy joined our Big Annual Spring Clean.

Over 1100 volunteers removed 1245 bags of litter from the county and over 5 tons of debris from the River Skerne and Wear.    Parents, teachers & communities all have a part to play in getting the anti littering message across to as many people, young and old, as possible but people will continue to litter, Council Tax will continue to rise and tax payers will continue to complain unless communities accept that the litter problem is simply too great for our Local Authorities to tackle. One way to deal with it is to take a page out of Mr David Priestley’s book by accepting there is a problem which needs a solution. Mr Priesley has solved his by employing a litter picker – can you identify a litter problem in your community or street and will you help to solve it?

If you want help, advice or support please telephone or ‘e’ mail me on 314622 or LitterFreeDurham supported by Durham County Council and Darlington Borough Council are already planning the 2013 Big Spring Clean between 18th March to May 12th 2013. – why not join us  – a special invitation goes out to Students of Greenfield School.

Councillor Gerald G. Lee