Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Volunteers' clean sweep of litter-strewn car parks

Larissa Penton, Kristen Haire, Holly Patterson and Vaila Hill all members of Wandsworth Youth

It's been an eyesore in the heart of east Belfast's Ballyhackamore for years and has attracted its fair share of anti-social behaviour.

Now a car park strewn with litter and plastered with graffiti has been cleared up by a crack team of local people – including Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson – as part of our Big Spring Clean drive with Tidy NI and DoE Rethink Waste.

More than 60 bags of rubbish and weeds were cleared from Ballyhackamore car park by a group of hard-working volunteers who braved miserable weather.

A team of more than 40 people gathered at Wandsworth Community Centre, armed themselves with litter-pickers, bags, gloves, paint brushes and shovels and got to work clearing up years of neglect that had allowed litter, weeds and graffiti to build up. They went on to clean up nearby Sandown car park.

Volunteers came from Youth Independent Advisory Group, the PSNI, Wandsworth Youth, Kirkpatrick Church and Walkway Community Centre. After all the hard work they enjoyed lunch at Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian Hall.

It was the second clean-up to have been organised by Alison Smith, a member of Police and Community Together, which is an initiative to get more members of the public involved in working with the police.

"It was great to see so many families and people of all ages come out and volunteer to help make a difference – great also to see the neighbourhood police service being able to get back to some sort of normality, working in their own beat areas visibly," she said.

"Because these car parks are private they are not areas that are targeted by the council. So unless the owner decides to clear it, it just lies like that for years."

Nicola Murray, project support officer with Tidy NI, said: It's just unfortunate that irresponsible litter louts continue to drop rubbish with no pride in where they come from – we can continue to work together and combat this for the future."

Last year the Big Spring Clean mobilised 26,000 volunteers who lifted 163 tonnes of litter. This year we've set ourselves an even tougher target – getting 50,000 people to get involved in cleaning up litter hotspots in our towns and countryside.

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