Greenford towpath litter pick

Two volunteer groups joined forces to clear “biblical” amounts of litter from a canal towpath.

Members of LAGER Can – the Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents – and Friends of the Grand Union Canal came together for their first joint operation with the Canal & River Trust, tackling rubbish on the Grand Union towpath between Greenford and Southall.

Gathering at the Ruislip Road bridge, their first task was to round up piles of junk dumped in bushes.

The litter squad worked their way south to Spikes Bridge, gathering dozens of sackfuls of cans and bottles, plus an assortment of magnet-fished detritus. It was enough rubbish to fill the Canal & River Trust barge, the Pride of London.

FoGUC’s Lorraine Leckenby said: “It was my idea to set up this event. I’ve been doing long runs along the canal recently and I was shocked to see the state of the towpath.

“Having the CRT barge with us obviously made a massive difference to the amount of rubbish we could collect, as we didn’t have to carry it to a collection point, saving valuable time. It meant we could remove a mattress from the bushes along with loads of old metal laying around from various magnet fishers.”

In a similar Towpath Taskforce operation run by the CRT three days earlier, volunteers filled 60 sacks of rubbish from a 500-metre stretch of the towpath south of Hayes Bridge in Southall. The area attracts groups of drinkers, many bringing takeaways.

Mark Percy, who volunteers with the Canal & River Trust and LAGER Can, said: “It’s hardly a surprise the towpath is filthy given that there’s not a single litter bin to be found anywhere along the 11 miles of canal in the borough of Ealing. Brent Council has bins on its section of the towpath in Park Royal, but in Ealing that seems to be an alien concept. Cleaning up is left to volunteers, with support from the CRT.”

Cathy Swift, Chair of LAGER Can, added: “There are so many factors contributing to the biblical quantities of rubbish we find along the canal in our borough that we feel a multi-agency approach is going to be needed to identify and deal with the causes. In the shorter term, we are delighted to be joining forces with FoGUC to formulate a rubbish removal plan.”