Town fury over litter clearing farce

A TOWN council chairman has told of his anger at an "amazing" situation where no organisation is prepared to take responsibility for clearing rubbish from a prominent river.

By David Lennard

A TOWN council chairman has told of his anger at an "amazing" situation where no organisation is prepared to take responsibility for clearing rubbish from a prominent river.

The Town River at Halesworth – which runs through a pedestrianised shopping centre and a popular park – is one of the most attractive features of the town, but has recently become something of a dumping ground.

Town councillors have been looking for help after the river and the adjoining New Reach canal became clogged with litter and rubbish including a supermarket trolley, traffic cones, bricks, lumps of concrete, cans and bottles.

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But Alan Holzer, chairman of Halesworth Town Council, said he had been frustrated when he tried to get assistance from official bodies.

"I contacted the Environment Agency and was told that litter in the river was not their responsibility and they only became involved when there was a risk of flooding," he said.

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Officials at the Environment Agency suggested to Mr Holzer that removing the litter was the responsibility of the local authority.

However, when he contacted officers at Waveney District Council he was told that clearing rubbish from the river was not under their remit.

"Waveney officials told me they had contacted their legal department and it had been confirmed they were only responsible for litter in the park and on the river banks but not for litter dumped in the river," he said.

The EADT contacted both organisations yesterday and received the same information as that given to Mr Holzer.

He said: "I find it absolutely amazing that neither organisation is prepared to take responsibility for the litter in the river.

"Volunteers do try and clear as much litter from the river as possible but it is difficult because one side of the river bank is private property."

Mr Holzer said that, as a number of large items had been dumped in the river, it would not take too long before there was a flood risk.

"It does not make sense to me that the Environment Agency will not take action before there is a risk of flooding.

"There is also the safety concerns because of the broken glass and bricks in the river along with discarded food that will attract rats," he said.

The town council organises litter pick sessions with volunteers on a regular basis and cover as much of the town and park as possible.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said that litter in rivers was the responsibility of local authorities.

"We only become involved when there is a risk of flooding or pollution, or if the river is no longer navigable," she said.

But a spokesman for Waveney District Council confirmed the authority's position and said he sympathised with the situation Mr Holzer and others found themselves in.

"The information given to Mr Holzer from the district council was correct but if volunteers remove litter from the river and leave it in piles on the bank we will come along and collect it," he said.

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