This issue sees the beginning of the third year of the Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society magazine. During this time we have tried to keep our readers informed about our various activities trying to make Newcastle Borough a better place in which to live and work. We have printed articles covering a wide variety of subjects, but sadly there has been little response from members of the public.
Newcastle, its town centre and rural area, is your own. We would like to know what you think about it and what you would like to see improved.
The Citizenship Competition we have set for school children for some years seems to have run its course, at any rate for the time being, so we are now looking at new ways to stimulate interest in the area. More on this at a later date.
The Civic Awards Competition is due to be held again in the summer of 2011.
Contributed by Dave Adams
Executive Director, Operational Services, NBC
ost of us will recognise the slogan above from the national Keep Britain Tidy campaigns. But how many of us realise that the campaign, originally started by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes and endorsed by celebrities such as Abba and Morecombe and Wise, is now more than 50-years-old?
The harsh reality is that despite all the efforts of local councils to combat the problem of litter and the negative impact that it has on our communities and neighbourhoods, more than 30 million tonnes of litter is collected from the streets of England every year at a cost to Council Taxpayers of £780 million.
Quite apart from the cost of clearing up litter, the environmental damage caused to wildlife is as serious as the unsightly, untidy and uncared for impression that can be created when litter is dropped. Food waste in particular is becoming an issue in town centres as it can attract rodents and scavenging birds.
The responsibility for clearing and controlling litter rests with local councils and in some cases, such as within Newcastle-under-Lyme, support in controlling litter is also provided by the police.
With the exception of Christmas Day, the borough council’s Streetscene Team, a very dedicated band of early risers, are out on the streets of Newcastle by 6am with sweepers, brushes and blowers to clean away the litter left from the night before.
A typical working day for the Streetscene Team will involve street sweeping, litter bin emptying, fly-tipping removal, litter picking, fly-poster and graffiti removal, as well as a range of other ground maintenance tasks. Visitors to Newcastle town centre may be familiar with the dedicated litter picking operation that is ongoing throughout the day using the green electric powered “dandy cart”.
I often ask myself what it is within our society – not only locally but nationally – which allows people to think it is acceptable to drop litter with such regularity.
And this happens despite the high-profile campaigns mentioned earlier. Certainly there is some evidence that among some groups, it is deemed fashionable to
drop litter rather than dispose of it responsibly. This happens despite the admirable efforts made in local schools and campaigns run by the council and our partners to raise awareness of the problem from an early age, and warn of the potential consequences if caught.
The council believes in an “educate before litigate” approach to littering. In other words, we would rather work to influence people’s attitudes and encourage them to take a positive approach towards responsibility for our environment. We believe this is preferable to taking an automatic, and perhaps disproportionate, enforcement approach. Powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices carrying a fine of £75 have been adopted in Newcastle-under-Lyme and many other areas and they have been used in more than 100 cases to date – mainly for littering offences in and around Newcastle town centre.
There can be little doubt that although the general standard of cleanliness on the borough’s streets, parks and public places has improved in recent years, there is still much to do as we continue to strive for cleaner public places.
This can only realistically be achieved through a joint and concerted effort on behalf of the authorities and local residents. Many people find littering unacceptable and want to do something about it.
To assist with this, we would ask residents to report litter problems on the dedicated Streetscene contact number 01782 742500 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organised litter picks are also carried out, often organised by Residents’ Associations or Friends of Parks Groups and additional volunteers are always welcome. Alternatively, residents could organise a litter pick in their area themselves. The council will be only too pleased to assist by providing bags, picking sticks and helping with disposal of the rubbish.
If we are all working together we can make a cleaner, greener borough and preserve the area for generations to come.
Contributed by John Sutton
The children of today are the citizens of tomorrow, and we believe that it is important to encourage them to take an interest in their town and its development. To this end we set up an annual competition in 2006 for year eight (12-13 year olds) in all the local schools. We have varied the topic each year but this time we returned to our original subject – to write an essay on how they would like to see Newcastle develop over the next ten years.
Initially we had very enthusiastic responses from most of the schools but the last two years entries have fallen seriously and we are having to consider whether perhaps this project has run its course, at least for the time being.
The essays we did receive this year all showed that considerable thought had been given to the subject and some interesting ideas were put forward.
The winner is a pupil at St. John Fisher Catholic College and we send our congratulations both to the winner and to the school.
Contributed by Jim Worgan (Chairman, Newcastle under Lyme Civic Society)
A chance remark made at a meeting I attended (as a Friend of Chatterley Whitfield) with a video and film company on 27th January led me to go to the old St. Giles and St. George’s School at 6.00 pm on Thursday 29th January 2009.
Having experienced disbelief when told that the meeting would be held there, I was delighted to find that this old and picturesque school was indeed open for the launch of Place, Space and Identity. This is a programme of temporary arts projects giving people the chance to respond to the social, economic and environmental changes taking place now in North Staffordshire. The innovative programme is led by the Arts Council England – West Midlands in a unique collaboration with Renew, B..Arts, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent Councils, Staffordshire University and many other agencies and partnerships.
Five arts projects have been commissioned involving media as varied as photography and dance, sculptured clay, graphic design and stitched hangings.
Guests were welcomed by Mark Barrow, Chief Executive of Newcastle Borough Council, and speakers included representatives from Renew and B. Arts. Many of those present included artists involved in the Art 34 project (Chatterley Whitfield) as well as representatives from local museums and Burslem School of Art. This was a one off event, but it was a foretaste of what could come once this building is again opened to the public.
Contributed by John Sutton
Since our last Newsletter we have had the pleasure of judging greetings cards designed by pupils at the Special Schools in the area. In the event we decided to split the first prize between two designs, one depicting Newcastle and the other illustrating the concept of caring for others less fortunate. Both of these were submitted by students at The Coppice.
A second prize for an attractive abstract design was awarded to Blackfriars school.
We hope that the mainstream schools are already working on their 2009 project for which entries need to be submitted by 20th June.
It is our hope that by involving local schools in various projects we can encourage young people to take an interest in their town and its development.
We believe that the children of today are the citizens of tomorrow and that it is important to get them interested in the development of their town, and to listen to their views on how they want the town to be when they are grown up.
To further these ideas, for the last three years we have set a competition for Year Eight students in our local schools to run in conjunction with their Citizenship studies.
Subjects so far have been:-
* “Write an essay on how you would like to see Newcastle Town Centre develop over the next ten years”.
* “Design an Eco-garden in your school grounds, to include a survey as it is now, a plan of the proposed garden and a breakdown of the costs involved.”
* “Produce a scrapbook depicting various aspects of your school.”
We have been delighted in the interest shown by many schools and the enthusiasm and originality shown by the students.
This year, for the first time, we have set a separate competition for pupils at the Special Schools in the area. We look forward to examining their entries in due course.
So far, prizes have been awarded to Sir Thomas Boughey School, Wolstanton High School, St. John Fisher School and Maryhill High School.
The subject set for the 2009 competition will be to devise a project in which the school can become involved with the local community, to their mutual benefit.
We hope that all those schools who have entered before will again compete. We would be particularly pleased to receive entries from any local schools who have not previously participated.