The Messenger - Serving Gislingham, Mellis and the Thornhams

Charity Meadow Rubbish

Date: 23 July 2020

During this long period of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been using our time in new and interesting ways - video exercises each morning, being a case in point. One of mine has been adding more and more interesting people to my Twitter feed.

Among those I have added is the author Ian Rankin. In doing so, I have discovered that he lives in Edinburgh and that his home overlooks a park. I guess such pleasures come with being a successful author.

A post he made recently caught my eye. It was a photograph taken from an upstairs room overlooking this park, showing the park covered in litter left by the crowds who had been there during the day. The following morning, there was another post of Council workers going round the park clearing up all this litter, leaving it spick and span for the next wave of visitors to enjoy.

The comments left to people’s tweets are frequently entertaining, interesting and sometimes challenge one’s personal view of the world. This comment to Ian Rankin’s photograph seemed particularly poignant:

“Littering is the first signal to the world that you’re special and rules don’t apply to you. If parents didn’t hard wire how wrong it is into their toddlers the very first time they dropped a sweetie wrapper, then they’re responsible too”.

Sadly, it seems that within Gislingham we have a small group of people who fit this description of believing that they have some higher status and are above the normal rules of society. I say this because, too often, I receive reports of litter on Charity Meadow. This has been to the extent of glass bottles being strewn across the play area, an indication of the type of arrogance Ian Rankin’s follower on Twitter is describing.


This is more than a toddler maybe accidentally dropping a sweetie wrapper. And it is made worse by the fact that there is a litter bin on Charity Meadow within a few socially distanced metres.

Almost all of the people I meet in Gislingham do not fit the description of those responsible for this poor behaviour, so I know we are talking of a minority that is hopefully very small.

The way I look at it is that Charity Meadow is a facility provided for all of the village to enjoy. It is a wonderful resource that should be respected in the same way as if you were visiting your neighbour’s garden. Thought of in that way, begs the question: If you were visiting your neighbour and enjoying a beer with them, would you leave your bottles lying on their grass and chuck all your bottle tops in the ground?

It is not too much to expect that we behave the same way in public as we do in private, is it? If we agree on that, it is not too much to ask that the litter bin is used for the purpose provided and if it is full that you take your litter home.

Finally, it may not be known by the village that the litter bin on Charity Meadow is not emptied by MSDC, but by volunteers. MSDC do not empty it due to the distance from the road. It is therefore even more important that we do not use the litter bin inappropriately (by depositing dog waste for example) and take our rubbish with us when we leave, especially if the bin is full. If you respect your neighbours in the village, you might just be doing them a favour as it might be them who are emptying the bin for you and keeping the Meadow tidy for all of us to enjoy.

Simon Bell, Chair, GUC