Harrogate residents say litter on the Stray is becoming 'unbearable' after finding mounds of discarded bottles and drug paraphenalia

A Harrogate couple fed up with discovering piles of discarded litter on their daily walks across the Stray have spoken of their disgust at the way the town’s glorious parkland is being treated.

By Brogan Maguire
Thursday, 18th June 2020, 12:30 pm

The extent of the current problem is such that Mike and Liz Lewis have even taken to carrying bin-liners on their morning walks so they can tidy up the bottles, glass, takeaway boxes and even drug canisters left on the grass.

Tired of having to carry out what seems to be an endless task every morning, the couple are now appealing for people to show more consideration, and urging the council to take more action.

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Mike and Liz Lewis say they are sick of clearing rubbish from the Stray.

Groups of people, often teenagers, have congregated on The Stray to enjoy the recent burst of pleasant weather. While that in itself is not an issue, the mess they leave behind is a huge concern.

With schools still closed for many year groups and social gatherings only permitted in open spaces, Mike and Liz say the mess has become completely intolerable.

Mike said: “We have always done our bit and been committed to helping make Harrogate look presentable because it’s where we live and we care so much about it.

“Don’t get me wrong, there has always been litter, especially during the summer holidays, but I have never seen as much as there is right now.

Rubbish has been left on the Stray.

“There are takeaway boxes, bottles and food wrappers strewn everywhere after groups have congregated. The bins are overflowing and we have collected bags and bags of it every morning when we’ve gone for a walk.

"We have just completely had enough of it now. There is only so much we can take. This just isn’t our responsibility and we’ve reached the end of our tether.”

Mike has spoken to dog walkers and joggers who share his concerns and have said they are now looking for other places to go in Harrogate to avoid the state of the Stray.

Rubbish has been left on the Stray.

He has also raised concerns about safety, after spotting glass bottles and sharp objects hidden amongst the grass - as well as small empty drug containers, including those which were filled with nitrous oxide - or laughing gas.

He said: “There is clearly a huge problem here and something needs to be done about it. People are obviously bored as leisure facilities and many schools still aren’t open and it’s really taking its toll on the community.

“What if somebody gets hurt by some of the rubbish which has been left behind? My wife and I hate to see it all left there, but we are just sick of fighting a losing battle.”

Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Richard Cooper, has thanked Mike and Liz for their efforts - and urged those enjoying the delights of the Stray to take their rubbish home with them.

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.”

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Judy d’Arcy Thompson, Chairman of the Stray Defence Association, added: “Why people cannot enjoy Harrogate’s wonderful Stray without leaving all their rubbish behind is something the Stray Defence Association finds constantly puzzling. It is also a constant source of distress and annoyance to other Stray users. Caring for planet earth is important to all of us. Therefore, caring for our own precious part of it should be too. Enjoy your Stray, love your Stray but please take your litter away.”

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