Mel Giedroyc Joins LAGER Can Litterpickers

TV presenter helps collect 18 tonnes of tyres and junk from the River Brent

Lager Can volunteers celebrate with Mel Giedroyc

November 30, 2022

An army of ‘heroic’ volunteers including TV presenter Mel Giedroyc have cleared more than 18 tonnes of rubbish from the banks of the River Brent.

Teams from LAGER Can - the Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents and CURB - Clean Up The River Brent worked over three weekends at the Abbey Estate Open Space in Alperton. Extra help was provided by humanitarian group Green S Welfare.

Alperton Lib Dem councillor Anton Georgiou said, "The heroic efforts of the volunteers have totally transformed the River Brent banks here. I cannot understate the improvement.

"Unfortunately, uncertainty over land ownership and responsibility, as is often the case, meant that rubbish was allowed to build up over a long period. Now that volunteers have done such an incredible job, it is essential that rubbish is never allowed to build up in this way again."

The rubbish was painstakingly removed from steep banks leading down to the river, which runs along the Brent/Ealing boundary.

"This was an eyesore," said CURB's Ben Morris. "It was fly-tipped and casually littered over many years, with rubbish embedded in the banks and tumbling down into the river. It now looks acceptable and normal. It’s still not perfect, and we hope to go back for one final effort before Brent Council put up a new fence."

Cathy Swift, chair of Ealing-based LAGER Can added, "We knew that the rubbish in Alperton would eventually work its way down to Ealing, so we felt it was as much our problem as if it had been in the river in Ealing. Rubbish is no respecter of borough boundaries!"

She hailed the "huge cooperation" with Brent Council's contractor Veolia, who took away the rubbish in a fleet of cage trucks after each of the six sessions and weighed it. Council neighbourhood manager Jon Ashby said the biggest haul for a single day tipped the scales at 11.7 tonnes and the total for the whole operation was a staggering 18.7 tonnes.

Mel mucks in with LAGER Can's Cathy Swift
Mel mucks in with LAGER Can's Cathy Swift

Mel Giedroyc was among the dozens of volunteers who worked for a combined total of 310 hours. "It was amazing," said the former Bake Off host. "I loved rolling my sleeves up and getting stuck in."

The tyres were dumped over a number of years at the site off Queensbury Road, but Cathy Swift hopes the problem will now be reduced. "We believe that the clean-ups in themselves will discourage further fly-tipping as the perpetrators will realise the area is being watched. We will keep an eye on the area and raise the alarm in the event of future fly-tipping."

Some of the tyres that were later removed

The Alperton haul was the biggest in the five-year history of LAGER Can and the more recently established CURB, but it wasn’t their first operation on the Brent. In June a team waded into the river north of the A40 in Perivale to collect 148 tyres weighing two tonnes.

Ben Morris gets to grips with tonnes of tyres
Ben Morris gets to grips with tonnes of tyres. Picture: Len Brown

Ben Morris added: "Removing rubbish is an important and eye-catching part of what CURB is doing, but we’re primarily concerned with water quality - something which is usually invisible. We're also launching a reed-planting initiative on the Lower Brent to replace invasive plants, improving the water quality and habitat."

LAGER Can, which started five years ago, now has more than 2,000 members. Their work has been recognised with a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Mark Percy

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