Merton Street Champions scheme launched


The ongoing scheme aims to make Merton a cleaner place to live by fighting issues such as fly-tipping, graffiti and littering.


By Gerard Brand, Rob Chinnery, Chloë Hamilton and Emma Swan

Merton’s streets will sparkle after the Street Champions scheme launched on Saturday.

The ongoing scheme aims to make Merton a cleaner place to live by fighting issues such as fly-tipping, graffiti and littering, much like the world famous Wombles of Wimbledon.

More than 75 residents of all ages gave a combined 200 hours of their time at the event, which took place in Mostyn Gardens on September 29.

Principal Community Support Officer, Rachel Phelan, said: “What with the Jubilee and the Olympics, we’re trying to continue that community spirit into everyday life.

 “Lots of people didn’t know each other before and they got to know each other while they were working.”

Volunteers collected around 100 bags of litter and garden waste at the event, as well as planting bulbs and painting fences.

Councillor Mark Betteridge, Cabinet Member for Performance and Implementation, said: “We are really fortunate to live in a borough where so many people volunteer and take an active and valuable part in looking after their local area.

“This activity makes a huge difference to everyday life in our borough and helps keep Merton clean, green and safe.”

The initiative allows residents to sign up as Street Champions and report issues to the council, something Waste Enforcement and Community Engagement Manager, Pat DeJesus, says is pivotal for future generations.

She said: “Particularly we’re teaching children to get it right at the beginning, so that when they grow up they won’t drop litter.

“We want to engage with residents as well as them engaging with us, and the scheme will help us make a difference.”

Although Merton was awarded four out of five stars at this year’s Clean Britain Awards, in the last year street sweepers have swept 2,115 tonnes of litter from 214 miles of roads throughout the borough.

Merton Councillor Judy Saunders said: “I am all for encouraging residents to be actively involved in their environment. Merton Street Champions will be a positive step.”

The fight against waste is not over, with fly-tipping in particular costing the council around £250,000 a year.

In the meantime, convincing residents to do the simple job of disposing their waste properly is still a priority for the council.

“This is not a means to an end, we’re forever telling people about waste and litter,” added Ms DeJesus.

“In an ideal world everyone would put their rubbish in the bins. But we want to prove to people that there are a lot of volunteers doing it for them.”

For information and to register interest about Street Champions, contact Rachel Phelan on 020 8545 4798 or email [email protected].

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