50 – Volunteers Clean The Canal!


Well yesterday on the banks of the ‘Curly – Wurly’ (The Wyrley & Essington Canal) at Bentley Bridge Wednesfield. I was blown away when more than 50 Volunteers joined Cllr Mary Bateman and I to take part in a litter pick.

I had made arrangements with the Canal & River Trust a few weeks ago to pick litter from the canal before the Wednesfield Canal Festival kicked off on the 10 7 11 August.

On Saturday 13th July 2019. Mary and I turned up expecting a huge and magnificent 40 Volunteers who had contacted me to say that they would be joining with me and Cllr Mary Bateman for the litter pick.

Imagine my surprise as we gathered to find even more people turning up to help even as we started just after 9.00am, on a dull, misty sort of day, with little rain showers taking place.

It was an incredible army of young and old, families with children, individuals., even the Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Greg Brackenridge joined in, before he had to go and officiate at the opening of Wodenstock later that day.

I want to thank everyone of you for coming to help us, in what is the UK’s latest Local Nature Reserve. I was bubbling with excitement when I met up with you all!

In the last few weeks CRT have cleared rubbish and other items from the canal.

They started from the stretch of the canal in the City Centre, right up to the Bentley Bridge – New Cross Bridge. We extended that run with the leg we undertook on Sunday. Our merry band of warriors cleared the stretch from Bentley Bridge out towards and up to the Devils Elbow bridge in Wednesfield.

Amongst the Volunteers were a twelve strong group of men and women from the McDonalds Restaurant chain. They were the staff of the Wednesfield and Wolverhampton restaurant on the Stafford Road. They took the Volunteers off at a tremendous speed!

What a boost ‘Team McDonalds’ arriving gave me, though I was saddened to learn of a minor injury a team member suffered during the morning that needed hospital treatment.

I was however delighted that a big multi-national company had joined the great canal litter pick here in Wednesfield – The litter pick took four hours to complete and the feedback was constant.  Shopping Trolleys were heaved out of the canal, Mattresses, plastic bag, after plastic bag, steel poles, nasty bags, with stinking remains of goodness knows what, were picked from the banks and the water UGH! We even cleaned up drug paraphernalia and needles, they went into a Sharps box for disposal later.

But the huge efforts the Volunteers made were ultimately to preserve the wildflowers and the Wildlife on what is one of the United Kingdom’s latest Local Nature Reserves.

Two CRT staff were in attendance – and I thank the CRT Staff – Chris Holdsworth & Barry Ketley because with out them we would not have been able to do all that we did.

When we finished the litter pick, we had filled a boat with rubbish and scrap metal, plastic by the bag load, bottles and even a knife! Yet I have been badgered by all those that took part to agree to do it all again before the year ends! So, I will, and with that I want to once again thank everyone that came to take a look, and to take part.

You were all magnificent – Finally I met with Nigel Garton a West End Actor – Nigel is in my ‘Ashmore Park Walk of Stars’ which is designed to act as an inspiration for others.

Nigel is amongst other famous people who have gone onto become the best in their field, and who have strong links to Ashmore Park. Nigel gave his time up to Volunteer on Sunday, to make our little corner of the Planet that little bit more acceptable for habitation.

It was a great day! We will do it all again soon!

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more