TIDY UP: Parish councillors are hoping children from Toft Hill Primary will once again join in the annual spring clean
TIDY UP: Parish councillors are hoping children from Toft Hill Primary will once again join in the annual spring clean

TOFT Hill and Etherley are being inundated with rubbish, much of which is being discarded from cars travelling through the villages, parish councillors were told.

Despite litter picking being the responsibility of the county authority, Etherley Parish Council employs its own member of staff, who collects more than 20 bags of rubbish a week from the villages’ verges and footpaths.

The issue was raised at this month’s meeting after a resident contacted the group complaining about the amount of rubbish.

Parish clerk Alison Overfield said: “I did explain exactly what the litter picking programme is and what we do. The parish council is not responsible for litter picking but we do take it on ourselves to employ someone.

“If the parish council did not pay for someone to litter pick, you would be lucky if we got the county council out two or three times a year.

“We get 20-plus bags of litter every week. The area we cover is phenomenal. From Etherley Bank alone we get eight bags.”

The meeting was told one of the problems was that Toft Hill and Etherley were the “optimum” distance from a nearby branch of a fast food outlet, with people discarding their burger detritus from vehicles as they drove through the villages.

Cllr Joan Thompson agreed. She said: “Most litter comes from cars, not from our own people.”

Cllr Stephen Hugill recalled an incident when he was out cutting his lawn. After completing a row, he turned round to discover fast food boxes had been thrown onto his newly-mown strip. Mrs Overfield added: “The parish council is getting blamed, but it is not the parish council that is throwing out the litter.”

Cllr Janet Balmer said another problem with litter came when recycling bins were emptied.

“The tops come off the bins if it is windy.”

Members agreed there was little else they could do in addition to their ongoing efforts to tackle the litter problem.

However, this issue is to be highlighted on the council’s website and in the next newsletter in an effort to make people think twice before throwing rubbish from their cars. 

Members also pointed out that anyone interested in organising volunteer litter picks in the villages would be more than welcome to do so. 

The parish council is once again embracing the Litter Free Durham campaign, the county's annual spring clean. This year's clean-up for Toft Hill and Etherley has been pencilled in for Thursday, April 4.