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Mayor’s Blog – A Sunny Bank Holiday…

A Sunny Bank Holiday Weekend

A Bank Holiday weekend and the sun is shining. What more could we ask for after such a long period of doom, cooped up inside? There is nothing like some clear blue skies and warm sunshine to lift the spirits, and that is exactly why people are heading our way from across the country to enjoy our beautiful landscape and coastline. However, the arrival of our visitors is not without its issues. Bridport is for much of the year is a relatively quiet, but vibrant coastal town, but for a few months each year it is suddenly bursting at the seams, with car parks full and streets and beaches filled with people enjoying themselves.

Whether we like it or not Bridport and West Bay is a tourist destination set in the beautiful hills of West Dorset. The things that make this area such an attractive place to live are exactly the same as the reasons people want to spend their hard-earned holiday time here. And who are we to deny them the opportunity to enjoy, for a few precious days, what we have on hand throughout the year?

As we emerge from the strictures we have had to endure over the past year, our visitors are even more important to the local economy than ever. Our hospitality industry is on its knees and the visitor pound may be the difference between survival and closure for many. It is not only the hospitality industry that will be given a much needed financial boost over the summer, our high street shops will hear their tills ringing more often, and local artists and craftspeople will have a new eager audience for their creations.

We are fortunate that people want to visit this area. There are many once thriving coastal towns around the country that are struggling to survive with high streets that are full of boarded up shops. The fact that we are not in that position is due in part to our visitors and it is important that we continue to make them feel welcome.

The From Street to Sea mass litter pick

Sunday saw the streets, rivers and beaches of Bridport and West Bay thronged with people carrying litter pickers and bin bags as they set out to collect the rubbish that has been carelessly left by people to contaminate the environment. The ‘From Street to Sea’ mass litter pick is one part of a campaign to engage as many local people as possible in taking care of our communal spaces; the focus of which is raising an army of Bridport Litter Free Street Champions who will carry out regular litter picks around the area in which they live.

Sunday’s mass litter pick was a big success and I am extremely proud of all those who took part. In addition to the West Bay Beach Clean Volunteers picking the beaches and Litter Free Street Champions picking their local streets, teams set out from the Morrison’s and Co-op car parks to pick local green spaces like Asker Meadow and Happy Island. Families and friends, young and old, spent an hour picking and the end result was a huge amount of other people’s rubbish cleared.

The piles of rubbish collected were gathered together at the West Bay Heritage Centre and Morrison’s from where they were collected by Dorset Waste Partnership. Champions from across the town brought the results of their pick to add to the pile collected by the teams that had set off from Morrison’s and the Co-op. One lady who told me when she first contacted us about getting involved that; ’There isn’t any litter on my street’ arrived with a big smile on her face and a small plastic bag of rubbish she had collected on her street. Sadly, despite what people say, litter is everywhere.

Apart from two car wheels, a tent and a rusty shopping trolly, the majority of the litter collected consisted of glass, plastic and metal drink containers much of which contained alcohol, takeaway coffee cups, plastic sandwich and snack food wrappers and disposable plastic gloves and face masks. None of these things should be simply discarded wherever you happen to be.

People like to look for someone to blame and the easy targets are our visitors and the shops that sell these items. For the past few months we have been living under lockdown conditions where visitor numbers have been almost zero and yet there has still been a significant amount of litter. Although there will inevitably be an increase in the amount of litter when our visitors are here we have to accept that there is a base load that people who live here are responsible for.

Having spent a good deal of time talking to local shopkeepers over recent weeks about the issue of litter I am aware that they are doing their best to try and get their suppliers to reduce the amount of plastic they use and wherever possible remove it altogether or use a bio friendly alternative. So much for the supply end of the chain, it is what happens to the items purchased that is at the heart of the litter problem. When a consumer leaves a shop they are responsible for how they dispose of it, not the shopkeeper.

I would particularly like to thank Morrison’s, the Co-op, Baboo Gelato, Litter Free Dorset and Dorset Waste Partnership who have all been absolutely fantastic in the support they have given.

If you would like to join the growing army of Bridport Litter Free Street Champions or take part in the autumn From Street to Sea mass litter pick, which will take place on Sunday 17th October, simply email your contact details to:

Bridport Litter Free Street Champions – doing something positive about something negative.

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