Finchampstead couple deliver litter to council road in road safety protest

IT'S RUBBISH: The couple deliver three bags of litter cleared from the A327 Reading Road, protesting a lack of action. Picture: Gareth Rees

FRUSTRATED residents in Finchampstead delivered three bags of litter to the council offices over the weekend to protest a lack of action on their street.

Since November 2019, Gareth Rees and residents along the A327 Reading Road have been calling for improvements to road safety.

And in May 2020, the borough council’s School Safety Report recommended the pavements be cleared due to the mass of overgrown plants forcing residents to walk single-file down their road. 

Now, 15 months later, Mr Rees said no improvements have been implemented by the borough council with promises being unfulfilled.

Over the weekend, Mr Rees’ wife, Helen, donned a high-vis jacket and cleared the litter along the road – and then left it on the doorstep of the Shute End offices.

“I’m just so frustrated,” Helen Dodsworth said. “I feel like they just see us as a bunch of houses at the end of the borough.

“The bags were a form of protest — we want to show them how much litter there was, and ask them to clean our streets and cut back the vegetation.”

Once collected, the rubbish was then delivered in three blue bags to Shute End, addressed to Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, the executive member for highways at the council. 

Helen Dodsworth wore a high-vis jacket to be seen by drivers. Picture: Gareth Rees

“We delivered it with a note asking for the council to undertake the vegetation clearance on Reading Road,” Mr Rees said. “I made sure the bags had a to and from address so they could not be considered fly tipping and were in fact a delivery.”

He said: “We have tried everything we can to get action.  We’re happy to help — we have cleared the litter on a road considered dangerous by the council.

“It’s the rubbish they failed to clear — this is a demonstration that nothing has been done.”

Cllr Jorgensen told Wokingham.Today: “Work to clear the vegetation in this area has been programmed for the week commencing 8 March, for five days. 

“This will take place in off peak hours, between 9.30am and 4pm, under two-way lights to allow work to be completed in safety.”

She added that each week, council contractors clear more than 25 tons of roadside litter across the borough.

“We respond to every request as quickly as we can, prioritising the areas where the litter has the biggest negative impact,” she said. 

“I would like to thank the residents who have assisted in this location, along with all the volunteers across the borough who help with litter picking.”

Picture: Gareth Rees

In May 2020, the School Safety Report highlighted the need to clear the overgrown vegetation and noted: “It is recommended that the footways on Reading Road are cleared to the back of the footway and all overhanging vegetation should also be trimmed.”

Ms Dodsworth questioned why the council would spend money on commissioning a report, but “fail to follow up on the recommendations”.

She said: “Parts of the path are only 50cm wide, it’s impossible to walk side-by-side with someone, such as a parent and child — it’s very harrowing when large lorries pass by inches from your body. 

“I challenge Cllr Jorgensen to walk down that road — would she be concerned for her safety?”

Cllr Jorgensen acknowledged the pavement along the A327 Reading Road is narrow and said she is looking at how this can be improved. 

“There is no easy solution in this location but we hope to be able to consult with residents on some of our ideas next month,” she said.

Mr Rees said he met with Cllr Jorgensen on Wednesday, July 15 2020, where a promise was made to clear the pavements.

He said this promise was reiterated at a meeting on Monday, October 5, 2020. And in December, the council said it would take action in “early 2021”.

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