A DAY of action recently took place in Stalybridge to give the town centre a spring clean.
It came about as a result of residents’ comments in a recent consultation about Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge, of which Stalybridge was nominee for Tameside.
Volunteers, local businesses, councillors and officers from Tameside Council’s street cleaning, ground maintenance, neighbourhood and waste services descended on Stalybridge town centre as part of a day of action to clean up the town.
The day was spent cleaning up littering and fly-tipping, pruning back overgrowing vegetation and talking with local businesses and residents about what they could do to dispose of waste responsibly and help keep Stalybridge tidy.
Also in attendance for the day of action were specialists from the Canal and Rivers Trust and the Mersey Rivers Trust, who lent their expertise to clearing plastics and other rubbish from the River Tame and the canal, and repainting the lock gates on the canal at Armentieres Square.
Peter Rawson, from the Huddersfield Canal Society, explained how the spring clean came about:
“The Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge board has various sub-groups including one for rivers and canals.
“The day of action was suggested to improve the river and canal corridor that runs through the town.”
It was co-ordinated by Tameside Council who provided much of the resources including street cleaning, ground maintenance teams, neighbourhood and regulatory services teams.
They were joined by the Mersey Rivers Trust, Huddersfield Canal Society, Stalybridge Town Team and an army of volunteers who included the town’s councillors.
Whereas Stalybridge Town Team usually has about 15 volunteers on their monthly Saturday morning litter picks in the town centre, there were around 50 people involved in the day of action.
Peter explained much of the work was centred on Armentieres Square where the canal was dredged and dumped items removed.
He added the lock gates were also painted as they had been in need of attention
The Mersey Rivers Trust took charge of cleaning the River Tame in the town centre.
The Trust’s Warren Andrew revealed more than 20 bags of rubbish, two bikes and three traffic cones were pulled from the stretch in a first ever clean up on the stretch between the three bridges from Trinity Street to Caroline Street.
Warren, the man who is leading the scheme to attract salmon to Stalybridge, admitted he was not surprised at the outcome and was encouraged at the first results.
He also issued a warning: “There was a lot of plastic and metal piping removed but probably half of what we recovered was wet wipes.
“That’s the real disgusting stuff as they just get flushed through the drainage system and released into the water.
“The biggest problem is wet wipes – we need people to stop flushing them down the loo. There’s no screen for them. They come out of the drains exactly how they were when they went into the system.
“I’d say it was a brilliant success for a first event of its kind in the town – and it wasn’t more than I thought we’d pull out.
“If we’d had 10 or 15 people then yes, we may have got more done but that would also have posed more challenges for us as staff in terms of health and safety.
“Having done clean-ups of this kind before, I’d say the amount was about right.
“A lot of what we pull out cannot be seen as it is under the water – you don’t know what’s really in there until you get in.”
Warren believes it will not take much time to get the water quality to its required level for salmon to survive.
He said: “I’d say it may take between 12 months and two years. If a clean-up is done regularly in different sections, then the water quality should get there.”
The day of action was one of the top short-term priorities to support local businesses while other plans are being drawn up for housing, better parking and reviving the market hall.
Cllr Adrian Pearce, chair of the Stalybridge Town Challenge Board and member for Stalybridge North, who helped to organise the day of action, said: “This is an exciting time for Stalybridge, with good progress being made with the Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge and the prospect of more investment to come.
“The heart of Stalybridge has always been the local residents and communities, and I think you’ve seen how we come together to make life better for everybody here. I want to thank all the volunteers who contributed their time and effort to the day of action. It is up to all of us now to keep the town tidy and report any fly-tipping or dumped rubbish.”
Council staff from neighbourhood services will continue to review the area to ensure that Stalybridge town centre remains in good condition. If you need a new or replacement bin, or wish to report fly-tipping or littering in your area, please visit the “Report It” section of our website, www.tameside.gov.uk or phone our call centre at 0161 342 8355.