The Environment Group has been arranging occasional litter picks for some years. It has become apparent that several other groups and individuals are also doing this in and around the town. In the period December 2017- January 2018 in conjunction with Morpeth Lions, some EIG members formed the Morpeth Litter Group. The aim is to avoid duplication, to pool resources, to enhance the appearance of the town, and to feed back information to the Town and County Councils on the most neglected “grotspots”. We will try to meet every month or two to eventually cover most of the town. and to time events to coincide with Britain and Northumbria In Bloom inspections, Keep Britain Tidy Great British Spring Clean and the Lions Protect the Planet month. It is hoped that by lobbying the Councils, their litter picking strategy will be adjusted to include long-term neglected “grotspots”, and might also result in opening up and landscaping some areas which are currently hidden or are neglected wasteland.
Our first event at the top of Postern Burn on February 11th attracted 18 people who shifted 25 or more bags of litter in one and a quarter hours.
attracted 22 volunteers who collected some 36 bags of rubbish in an hour and a half.
We have been pleasantly surprised by very positive feedback to date regarding the two first events. The events have attracted a diverse range of volunteers of all ages, and many of those helping have told us that they have never done anything like this before and have found it therapeutic both in respect of helping to clean up the town and also because of the humour and camaraderie generated. Apart from GMDT and Lions volunteers those involved to date, or expressing interest in helping, include the Morpeth Justice and Peace Group, Coca Cola Enterprise volunteers and Morpeth Rotary Club, as well as some individuals. We could always benefit from more helpers so please see below.
- Bluebell woods - we are still seeking funding to implement improvements needed.
- Morpeth Town Council has agreed to fund signage maintenance and repair across the Town.
- In 2002 there were improvements to Carlisle Park and included sculpted, painted poems on the 100 steps and bandstand. These are now fading and we have had an excellent response from volunteers to help repaint these works in the near future.
The Environment Interest Group works to identify and develop environmental projects and activity in Morpeth and the surrounding areas. Lobbying of appropriate organisations is another important role of the group, when environmental issues have been identified ,such as a problem with a public footpath, woods or watercourses or signage erected by the Trust. The group as an arm of the Trust also lends support to other groups implementing environmental projects in the area, such as local schools, the Town Council which manages Britain and Northumbria In Bloom, and flood action groups. Over many years members of the group have produced publications such as walking maps and ornithology cards for public sale. All the projects aim to improve the Morpeth area for the community and visitors to the town.
Activities in 2015-16
We believe that non statutory signage such as information boards, and directional signage erected by the Trust and various other parties in the last decade or so has made a major contribution in improving the town’s resident and visitor offer. We have recorded some 106 signs primarily in and around the Town Centre and various nearby countryside locations, with a view to ensuring that these are maintained satisfactorily. The non statutory types of signage displayed in Morpeth cover a wide range from finger posts, to interpretation panels incorporating wildlife artwork and heritage information, directional signs with town maps, and appreciably older distance indicator structures or panels. Of the 106 signs some 21 have been assessed as needing immediate repair and maintenance, and work to 5 has been undertaken by Trust volunteers. After discussion with the Town Council we are delighted to say that they have agreed to resource the remainder of the maintenance programme this year. The survey, which also includes a number of photographs, will enable the Trust or any other party to more readily monitor the condition of Morpeth’s non statutory signage at regular intervals. The survey also includes a number of possible additional signs which were identified in the Castle Woods and Water project, but not erected because of resource limits.-eg at Mitford and Morpeth castles. Therefore, there remains scope to supplement the current provision if further resources can be identified.
As a corollary to the signage project we are also aware that in recent years Morpeth has increasingly been benefitting from forms of street art and landscape features in its townscape. We feel that this adds to the character and uniqueness of the town although not everyone might agree on the merits of some features!! These include the Emily Davison mural and 100 steps poem in Carlisle Park; the “obelisk” on Curley Kews; the ironwork sculpture in a yard off Marketplace; the bull in Sanderson Arcade; the water feature in front of Morrisons, and the mural undertaken by local students in the yard/alley adjacent to T and G. Allan’s. Although these are generally robust we intend to add them to the signage survey schedule in case future maintenance is required—although some of this is expected to be implemented by the private sector owners.
We are also continuing to work with KEVI’s on occasional sponsored litter projects which can raise funding for school activities as well as benefitting the environment of the town, and providing hands on environmental awareness for students.
We continue to search for a funder for further work in and around Bluebell Wood, and have now completed our feasibility study with a view to lodging bids with various parties who support community environmental projects . Because the wood is adjacent to and provides a link from Easter Field to Howburn Wood, various possible improvements such as occasional seating and path improvement in Easter Field are included in the study.
The Group continues to monitor public footpaths and bridleways and permissive paths in the Morpeth area, to undertake minor remedial work, and to lobby landowners and the County Council when issues arise. For example we are continuing to lobby NCC to designate a public footpath through Howburn Wood.
If you are interested in working with us on a project - why not get in touch?
If you are as enthusiastic about our environment and have ideas or special skills or knowledge or simply want to register your interest as a possible helper, please consider joining us. There is no obligation involved, but the more people and skills we know we might call upon , the more chance we have of continuing to work at the maintenance and improvement of this exceptionally attractive area.
Hugh Edmundson, Director - Environment