By Tony May
As ‘The Clean Up Man’ I have now been ‘patrolling’ the streets of Hollington for well over a year and the amount of cans, bottles, crisp bags, cigarette packets, fag butts and other items I have personally picked up and ‘escorted’ to a public waste bin must now run into thousands.
Doing what I do, especially as I do it for nothing, has proved to be a very valuable learning experience for me. Through the act of ‘mopping up’ after everyone I have come to understand much more graphically the physical and social effects of the ills of modern society and the effect they are having on our community. I have found the most amazing things dumped in the most amazing places. A motorcycle crash helmet thrown up into the brambles on one of the high banks at the top of Battle Rd was accompanied nearby, for example, by some car springs and a selection of medical supplies in a grey polythene bag that had been ripped open. I regularly find used condoms near areas where children play, smashed glass bottles where people walk their dogs and bags of dogs mess thrown into trees, hedges and bushes. People even dump things in wooded areas in broad daylight. The other week I witnessed a man heading for the woods carrying the remains of a corrugated iron shed on his shoulders, as bold as brass! Why does this kind of thing go on? Well, a lot of it has got to do with the fact that people these days accept such behaviour and say nothing about it. No-one dares to challenge anyone for fear of being violently assaulted and there is also an air of apathy that comes down the phone if you do in fact report it to the authorities. So the authorities do not care! Right? WRONG! By working with people like Councillor, Emily Westley, Jayson Biggerstaff and talking to a host of local Community Police Officers and others I have been re-assured that officialdom DOES care. Ironically, the problem behind a lack of action in most cases is the same as which is causing the breakdown of society and spirit of community. And that is? Put simply, a lack of money, manpower (or person power if you must!) and most important of all – hope. People are tired – very tired. All we ever hear nowadays is of cuts, job losses and of how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. People are tired of making phone calls to call centres, tired of hearing “if you want this press one, if you want that press two” and tired of then getting cut off after hearing a further message like “ I’m sorry, all of our operators are busy at the moment, please call later”. Why in the world should anyone take on the responsibility of ‘trying to make a difference’ when budget restrictions, red tape, E.U. regulations, Health & Safety and sometimes even Human Rights legislation make it impossible to move at more than a snails pace towards achieving anything? Life in Britain today has become far too over – complicated and over regulated. The Government say that they want people to contribute to society, strive to better themselves and work together for the common good but in reality it is usually impossible to do so now because so many hurdles (some of which are often expensive to jump over) are in the way. The result of all this is that people simply resign themselves to leaving all the decision making to other people and the buck simply gets passed and passed and passed… When people begin to feel that nobody else cares about the state of their community, when people are made to feel as if the country is going to wrack and ruin and when all people’s energies are having to be concentrated into finding a way to survive you have then created the perfect conditions for no-one to care about anyone else or anyone else’s property. For communities to recover, we need to see relocalisation of services for a start. Employing local people to work in local communities may seem quaint these days but by doing so you create a sense of belonging within people. Since I have been clearing up my area I have come to see litter dropped as a slight on ‘my patch’. I take it personally that someone has dared to wreck my area and make the place look and smell awful. If, however, I live miles away and are simply doing my job for an out-of-town contractor, what pride in and connection to the area have I? Restore the pride people have in their community and you will see a rise in those willing to give their time and energy into improving and maintaining an area. “You’re doing a good job there, mate but it will all be the same again in half an hour” is what I hear from people time and time again. With their heads turned at an angle, one eyebrow raised and a knowing smile upon their faces they offer me this same piece of advice… “Well, if it is I will come out again in half an hour” is my reply.
From Hastings Town October 2012
All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement © World Copyright 2015 Cinque Ports Magazines Rye Ltd., Guinea Hall Lodge Sellindge TN25 6EG