The volunteer group which took 13,000 bags of litter off Hartlepool's streets in a year

A volunteer army of litter pickers has achieved huge success in the fight to keep Hartlepool’s streets clean.

Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 9:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 9:14 am

The Hartlepool Big Town Tidy Up group has collected 13,000 bags of litter during 2021 alone, as well as 40,000 bags since the group first started – and the fight against rubbish is growing.

Jason Bland, who co-founded HBTTU on Facebook with Danny Oram, formed the group in February 2019.

Jason said that an estimated 13,000 bags of rubbish had been collected this year alone and litter cleans are going on all over town.

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Hartlepool Big Town Tidy Up members on a previous litter blitz.

Some members attend the regular litter blitzes which were first launched in the summer of 2020.

Other people do clean-ups in their own neighbourhoods and officials say every contribution from the public is welcome.

On top of the individual effort, officials are making sure the group as a whole is continuing to flourish and grow.

One of Hartlepool's litter-picking stars, Russ Carkner.

Jason added: “HBTTU has also become an unincorporated group which allows us to apply for local grants to build on the success and continue more work improving our town’s appearance.”

But the rise in membership levels is just as impressive. It reached 1,000 people by June 2020 and is now at 2,700 members. Whole families are getting involved.

Co-founder Danny Oram previously told the Mail that 40,000 bags collected was ‘a lot of litter. We have some people who regularly collecting 200 bags a month themselves.

Rubbish collected at Seaton Carew.

"We have got steadfast members who are doing it daily and then we get others who do the odd bag here and there.”

He added: “Each day, there are people picking up litter and taking pride in our town.”

As well as collecting litter, HBTTU is also;

*Supporting a crack down on fly tipping across Hartlepool;

*Recycling cans which brings money in to the group to buy more litter picking equipment;

*Working with Poolie Time Exchange which has backed the crackdown on litter and which has formed a partnership with HBTTU. PTE bought 30 hi-viz vests as well as litter picking devices and 30 hoops to be used by HBTTU members.

The group’s ethos is that litter collecting is seen as positive, therapeutic and a chance to make a difference to the community.

Members have collected everything from a guitar to a plastic banana skin, while a pregnancy test and part of a shopping trolley have also been found by anti-litter campaigners.

The list also includes the cartridge from a caravan toilet, a printer, microwave, toaster, and bolt cutter.

But members stress that, for every unusual item, there were nine times as many common items – such as plastic – which were regularly being dumped all over town.

To find out more about the group, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/2371734569779386

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