All invited to join mission to make Sidmouth cleanest town in Britain

Richard Eley, chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce

Richard Eley, chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce - Credit: Archant

A businessman, who has single-handedly been clearing up some of the town’s litter, has called on others to play their part in making Sidmouth the ‘cleanest parish in Britain’.

Richard Eley says he has already picked up a quarter of a ton of rubbish - that’s the equivalent of one silverback gorilla - along 85 of the 120 miles of the Sid Valley’s public footpaths and unclassified roads.

Sidmouth Town Council has also agreed to back a call to expand on Mr Eley’s efforts by paying an estimated £300 for a specialist chewing gum removing machine to clean an estimated 7,000 pieces from town centre footpaths.

Mr Eley plans to finish his big litter pick in time to coincide with the Queen’s 90th birthday, in two months’ time, and the national Clean for the Queen campaign.

He said he would easily finish in time, but wanted to invite residents to expand on his and other efforts being made by various community groups, such as Sidmouth in Bloom.

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“What I’m suggesting is that this council should claim to be the cleanest parish in England,” Mr Eley said.

“In the last couple of months, I have been systematically cleaning all our public footpaths and unclassified roads outside built-up areas.

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“It isn’t a big deal - it just involves walking my dog in some unusual places and carrying a bin bag with me, which does attract some strange looks.

“Picking up litter is not remotely controversial and everyone is happy for you to do it. It is actually quite satisfying.”

Mr Eley said the amount of litter he had collected might sound a lot, but Sidmouth was cleaner than most places.

He claimed half the litter dropped in the parish was done by fewer than 50 individuals. “If we could permanently discourage maybe 20 of those, then we would see a significant and sustained improvement,” he said.

“With this and other ways, we can really give the parish a deep spring clean in preparation for the tourist season.”

Mr Eley said he wanted to make people aware of what was going on and invited them to do their bit by doing things like cleaning their road signs, bus shelters and by picking up rubbish along the paths near their home.

He added he had spoken to Street Scene, which had agreed to clean the area’s major roads if residents would do the verges.

“By doing this, we would then seriously be able to claim to be the cleanest parish in England – this will help build civic pride and discourage residents and visitors from dropping litter,” Mr Eley said.

Residents have also been invited to help out with a beach clean on April 23 - to get involved, call Lynette Talbot on 01395 578081.

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