Stray Defence Association calls for action after being inundated with calls over 'avalanche' of litter strewn on Harrogate beauty spot

The Stray Defence Association has called for more to be done after being inundated with calls about the state of the Stray in recent weeks.

Friday, 19th June 2020, 4:45 pm

Following complaints that rubbish has been mounting on the popular Harrogate beauty spot, many now want to see tougher regulations for those who don't take their litter home with them.

It comes after some Harrogate residents have said they are taking matters into their own hands and doing daily litter picks on the Stray because they are so disgusted by the sight.

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Harrogate residents and the SDA say they are sick of the mounting rubbish on the Stray and action must be taken.

Judy d'Arcy Thompson, Chair of the Stray Defence Association (SDA), said: "Most of our wonderful Stray has been open throughout the Covid-19 crisis, our very own 'Natural Health Service' available free for all to enjoy, young and old alike. Yet, sadly, some have seen fit to leave quantities of unsightly, messy, and dangerous rubbish behind.

"Traffic wardens, issuing fines, have returned to our streets the instant shops were reopened. Why have we not seen litter wardens doing the same during the long hot days of spring when people’s need for their Stray has never been greater?

"We have been contacted by many about the appalling litter left on our beautiful Stray over recent weeks."

Concerns over safety have also been raised, after dangerous items including broken beer bottles and empty cannisters of nitrous oxide - or laughing gas - were found.

Judy added: "Tragically it is not just the dreadful detritus of bottles and food wrappers but also an increase in the paraphernalia of drug taking and empty canisters of nitrous oxide.

"There have always been thoughtless folk who leave rubbish but in recent weeks this has turned into an avalanche. This is not only unpleasant it is also illegal. Why should these offenders get away with it?

"The SDA can put out pleas on social media, people can contact local media outlets but would fining those responsible not be the better option? Having wonderfully kind people helping is fantastic, but the law should be enforced. Action is needed."

The SDA has also publicly thanked Harrogate couple Mike and Liz Lewis who this week told the Harrogate Advertiser they have taken the job of clearing the Stray upon themselves.

The story has brought about a strong reaction on social media, with many condemning those who leave the green space in such a mess.

One resident, Margo Lax, commented: "What is happening to people. Covid-19 seems to have brought out untidy people leaving their rubbish and dog poo for others to pick up.

"Not very hygienic....and very dangerous leaving drug related items about..."

Another, Ruby Wilson, proposed the idea of people across the community coming together to tackle the problem. She wrote: "Would any local community groups be interested in having a litter picking day on the Stray?

"If they were all socially distanced and with the councils approval! They could bag the litter up and place it near the nearest council litter bin. For the refuse drivers to collect. Lots of towns do this. Community groups have clean beaches and around the countryside. It would give people who are bored something to do especially the teenagers."

Coun Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, has insisted that enough is being done by the council to keep the area clean - and is urging people to take their rubbish home.

He said: "“I would like to thank the very public-spirited couple who pick litter off the Stray. Sadly, and particularly in warm weather, some people think it is OK to leave what they have brought to the Stray... on the Stray. This is despite there being 14 litter bins between Oatlands Drive and Leeds Road alone.

“We employ the equivalent of seven full-time people in a mixture of part-time and full-time posts collecting rubbish in Harrogate and on the Stray. We spend around £300,000 of taxpayers’ money on this every year. All to pick things up that other people drop when they could use a litter bin or take it home with them.

“Our standards are of course high. And by any objective standard, Harrogate is a tidy town. This is because of that dedicated team and the budget we commit but it could be better if people put their litter in bins or took it home allowing our team to cover a wider area and to cover the ground more frequently.”

Have you noticed more litter on the Stray recently? Send your experiences to [email protected] or message us on Facebook or Twitter.

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