This year, Bridgwater Town Council wants to focus on tourism. Proudly promoting our lovely town to the wider world. There are six new hotels on their way, the population is growing and people are interested in Bridgwater, its heritage, its history, its unique cultural offer and its wonderful scenery. Especially people are excited at the prospect of a renaissance for our waterways, the river, the docks, the canal, the coastal path. So it was great news when recently the town bridge was finally illuminated…only to reveal at least 20 shopping trolleys glistening in the waters below the bridge. Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Diogo Rodrigues, when asked, said simply ‘Well, people shouldn’t throw shopping trolleys in the river in the first place’. Which is absolutely right. They shouldn’t. Not everyone does. It’s a small minority. But they do. People will also have seen the same in the docks and the canal. But for one group of people enough was enough and they decided to do something about it.
Rage Against Rubbish are a newly formed band of kayaking enthusiasts brought together through their charity work and the fact that it was virtually impossible for them to kayak down the canal without having to trawl through a virtual Sargasso sea of floating debris. So instead of moaning, taking to the facebook, or giving up and going somewhere else, they decided to tackle the issue head on and lead the community on a crusade against crud.
On August 18th 48 rubbish-raging eco warriors from Bridgwater came together and cleared the equivalent of six shopping trollies full of litter from the town’s canal, dock area and towpath.
All the Rage
The Rage Against Rubbish team, Dan Perry, Riley Perry, Sarah Johnstone, Damien Vass and Jason Winter were immediately supported by The West Country Branch of the Inland Waterway Association (IWA), YMCA and Purplespoon Café.
Dan Perry said: “The event was a huge success. We would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who came along and helped us haul our biggest load of rubbish. We really appreciate everyone’s help. This time we managed to pull out of the canal a three-disc hi-fi, skateboard, shopping trolley, a road cone, a scooter, a metal case and the remains of three chairs. Plus, lots of cans and plastic and glass bottles. We have found that the worst place for litter so far along the canal in Bridgwater is the docks area, so it was great to host an event to solely focus on that area. Our next litter picking event is on Saturday, September 29 and we are always calling for more volunteers to come along and give us a helping hand. We can then pick even more litter. People can find out more about our next event on our Facebook page.”
Canal Cleaning events
The Rage Against Rubbish team organises canal cleaning events once a month along the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. These events start at 10 and finish at 1230 but for those needing kayak training they should arrive 30 minutes earlier.
Saturday, September 29
Saturday, October 27
Saturday, November 24
Saturday, December 8
Dan added: “We wouldn’t be able to host our litter picks without the ongoing support of The West Country Branch of the IWA and the YMCA. The IWA support us by supplying volunteers and a flat work boat with on-board rubbish, storage containers. They also provide us with bag rings, bags and litter pickers. The team then sort the rubbish and recycle it. The YMCA George Williams Centre kindly offered us the use of their double kayaks and Canadian canoes and life jackets for people to use free of charge. It is more time consuming to clear litter from the waterway, so it was great this time to have lots of people on the canal. Purplespoon Café, which is located at YMCA, provided a free tea or filter coffee to all volunteers, who attended on the day. This was much needed as it’s thirsty work! Thanks again to everyone who came along and helped. It’s just great to see the community coming together to make the canal and dock area a cleaner, safer and more pleasant place to be.”
Change is coming
Leader of Bridgwater Town Council and Westover Ward Councillor Brian Smedley met the group to find out what help the Town could give them and said afterwards “This is a brilliant initiative and we will support these people in any way we can. It really is time people started to care more about this town. We can blame cutbacks, we can say there’s other people there to pick up for us and we can say ‘my little fridge freezer won’t do any harm’ but the rest of us still have to live with the consequences. It’s great that more and more people are coming forward to get involved and rage against the rubbish that people have just taken for granted in the past. You don’t have to live in this mess, it doesn’t have to be this way, you can change it. And as of now we’re serving notice on those bloody trolleys in the river too!”
For further details about Rage Against Rubbish, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow the company on Twitter at @RageRubbish or log on to www.facebook.com/rageagainstrubbish/. To find out more about The West Country Branch of the IWA, please visit www.waterways.org.uk/westcountry/west_country.