Rubbish bags are crushing flowers

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Some of the bags left in the street Some of the bags left in the street

Since the coalition government brought in the Localism Bill in December 2010, there’s been
a lot of talk about the devolution of governmental powers so that local autonomy is strengthened.

But localism is not just about who holds the reins of power or who spends our tax money and on what.

We would add that localism should include a heightened awareness of personal civic responsibility, from governmental right through to community level.

People often make a fuss if they see weeds popping up round the street trees.

This is why Redbridge council has a spraying programme which involves four applications of herbicide per year.

This year, in support of the Bee Cause Campaign, we at Wanstead and Woodford Friends of the Earth decided to swap weeds for wildflowers, with our Seeds for Snaresbrook project.

This involves mobilising the local community to sow bee-friendly wildflower seeds in public tree pits.

Redbridge council has supported the project with an Olympic legacy grant and it has bent over backwards to help us by preventing the spraying of herbicide on all of the tree pits in our project.

But sadly, the street cleansing department has other ideas.

All along Wanstead High Street, the practice of leaving mounds of rubbish bags piled up for collection around the base of street trees is smothering our seeds.

This practice is also preventing new project participants from sowing theirs.

Ultimately, the presence of such an ugly eyesore – arguably far more unpleasant than a few weeds – is seriously endangering the success of our project.

Can the council not provide wheelie bins and permanent bays for the use of High Street residents and shop owners instead of allowing this unsavoury and visually polluting practice to continue?

We view the lack of joined-up thinking in Redbridge council with great dismay and are not a little disappointed.

Diana Korchien and Ann Williams,
Co-ordinators,
Wanstead and Woodford Friends of the Earth.

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