OUT IN THE FIELD: Litter picking and taking a dip in the sea

Myself and fellow Wombles Women have had our knuckles well and truly rapped by the authorities.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 2:15 pm
Annemarie Field tries out sea swimming. Annemarie (right) pictured with Dee Harmer, Sussex Open Water Swimming & Coaching (Fish 2 Water). SUS-210324-130138001

So fed up were we with the sight of litter strewn along the hedges on the A22 Golden Jubilee Way stretch of road that last week we donned our high vis waistcoats and, armed with litter pickers, we started collecting rubbish from the grass verge. We got lots of good natured beeps – at least that’s what I think they were – and within an hour had filled four black sacks with various bits of detritus.

I lost count of the glass and plastic bottles, drinks cans, empty cigarette packs, bags of builders’ rubble, crisp packets and L plates we uncovered in the bushes. The biggest villain of the piece though was, fast food wrapping and cartons, which have more likely than not been tossed from a car window travelling at speed. That’s the most likely explanation as Golden Jubilee Way isn’t exactly one of the top places in Eastbourne to stop for a picnic.

One of my fellow Wombles Women has come up with a quick fast solution to that particular problem though. It involves various drive-thru takeaways printing the car registration number on the bag so that when it’s tossed out of the car window, it can be delivered back to the owner with a fly tipping fine.

Another possible way forward would be CCTV when drivers photographed throwing waste out of their car by new “Littercam” technology will be fined £90, rising to £120 if unpaid after 15 days. The software matches footage of litter being thrown out of a car with that of the vehicle’s licence plate. Once verified, the information is passed onto the Driving and Vehicle Licencing Agency which provides the details of the car’s owner, allowing the local council to issue a fine.

I like the idea. I wish there could be similar cameras for people who go to the trouble of picking up their dog mess, bag it and then leave it on the nearest branch of a tree like an unwanted unpleasant Christmas bauble.

Anyway, I digress. With more and more people being ‘litter heroes’ and spring cleaning their areas, one of our Wombles has been in touch with various local authorities to see who is meant to maintain this particular stretch of road.

I wrongly thought it would be Highways England or East Sussex County Council but it appears it is the district or borough councils’ responsibility to keep it clean. So that would be Eastbourne or Wealden or indeed both. I am reliably informed at least one of the councils is now trying to get one of the lanes closed so it can be cleared safely by contractors. In the meantime our little band of volunteers will find another spot to go wombling.

I sent out an advance warning to friends, acquaintances, small children and animals last week to seek higher ground as I prepared for my first dip in the sea of the year.

With a wetsuit, DryRobe, a brightly coloured swimming hat and buoy about my person, I joined Dee Harmer, an open water swimming coach here in Eastbourne, to put me through my paces as we took the plunge up by the Wish Tower. On the beach it was a balmy 10 degrees and the water was about eight. Absolutely fabulous and totally invigorating. You can watch the video online and see my full report in a forthcoming edition of the paper.

Come on in, the water’s lovely.