Horror over new Stray litter problems and 'Covid parties' in Harrogate

Shock turned to horror this morning as the full scale of the Stray's litter problem was exposed in the glare of a summer's day.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 25th June 2020, 2:14 pm
Just some of the litter left on the Stray in Harrogate.

The Stray Defence Association called for action to be taken to protect the parkland after the Harrogate Advertiser highlighted the problem last week.

We revealed last week how some residents have even started taking matters into their own hands and doing daily litter picks on the Stray because they had become so disgusted by the discarded rubbish.

Harrogate Borough Council told us it had increased our collections to try and manage the problem.

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Concerned residents Mike and Liz Lewis from Harrogate who have become unofficial Stray litter pickers. (Picture Gerard Binks)

But the scenes that met disgusted residents this morning show, if anything, the problem has worsened with piles of litter left on several parts of the Stray on the York Place side.

Concerned Harrogate resident Mike Lewis, who has taken to carrying a bin liner on his morning walks so he can clear the mess said: "What is being done to stop this? What is being done to fix the root cause.

"There was much stacked around the bins, but I think that’s at best a quarter of what had to be picked up by those that didn’t create the mess."

Residents have taken to social media to complain of large gatherings of young people bringing boxes of alcohol and food to the Stray, saying it is a law and order issue, as much as a litter one, saying the gatherings amount to "Covid festivals."

Some of the bags of rubbish binned up on the Stray alongside charred grass from BBQs.

With the scorching weather set to continue the SDA, is calling for tough action on those responsible.

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?

Rubbish is constantly being discarded across the Stray.

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

Harrogate residents say litter on the Stray is becoming ‘unbearable’ after finding mounds of discarded bottles and drug paraphernalia.

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? Action is needed.”

A Harrogate Borough Council spokesman said: “As lockdown restrictions ease, a selfish few think it is acceptable to leave rubbish on the Stray. Unfortunately these people don’t even bother to use any of the many bins provided and leave rubbish where they were sitting.

"We are doing what we can with the resources available and have increased our collections to try and manage the problem.”

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