Puppies are for life, not just Christmas. Few would argue with that, and I hope that similar sentiment is adopted in the months and years after the “Clean for the Queen” initiative that begins in early March.

The national drive to rid our country’s communities of litter for at least a few months is linked to the monarch’s 90th birthday celebrations. Now I don’t for a second believe that Her Majesty is daft enough to believe that all schools and hospitals always smell of fresh paint, or that flower beds are weed free and pavements devoid of cracks, bumps or wayward tree roots. But she lives a relatively sanitised life, certainly when she’s out and about surveying her people.

This way, ma’am,” is a phrase used on every visit. It’s well meant, showing her the good stuff, but it amuses me when she (or Prince Philip) go off-track; hearts race, and advisers and security man start sweating. She just wants to be normal. Bless.

So we’re having a big tidy-up leading up her birthday in June. The scheme launches across the weekend of Friday 4th to Sunday 6th March. Kids and adults alike will hunt down crisp packets, cans, sweetie wrappers and fast-food cartons. The rubbish will end up in recycling facilities, where it should have gone in the first place.

Trouble is, we have become a nation of litter bugs. People chuck stuff on the floor without a care in the world. Civic pride has dipped. “Well, there are no bins…” you’ll hear some say. Or, when there are bins… “the council never empty them” is another favourite. Sure, but it wouldn’t be too difficult exercising a little will power, popping said litter in your pocket and finding a bin further down the street. Maybe I’m being far too idealistic.

Crewe Clean Team - February 2016 (2)

Crewe Clean Team - February 2016 (1)Thankfully, the wonderful people associated with The Crewe Clean Team keep going. They pick litter and recycle cans and bottles each month. They target regular grot spots and try to make a difference to the people and businesses nearby.  I join them, as often as I can. It’s only a couple of hours, once each month.

Therein lies the problem. Who has time to spare during our hectic and busy lives? You’d have to drop a Costa Coffee visit, miss a trek around the retail park or, heaven forbid, only have a two-hour laze on Saturday morning. I’m being overly harsh, but you get the point. Get off one’s backside!

In February the volunteers tackled the area behind the new Crewe Lifestyle Centre (due to open in April), and along Vernon Way near Tesco. It was pretty grim. Discarded bicycle frames, broken umbrellas tossed aside, hundreds of beer cans, dirty nappies – you name it, we found it.

Crewe Clean Team - February 2016 (5)

Who is responsible for the rubbish that blows along here, on and off the car parks, into the bushes and builds up in doorways and blocks drains? Perhaps Tesco and Home & Bargains should do more (and not just on their own land); maybe we should all pay another £5 Council Tax so that decent services could be restored. The answer is probably education, ingraining decent and responsible behaviour into kids at an early age.

Crewe Clean Team - February 2016 (4)

On that note there is hope. Ahead of the Clean for the Queen project, Cheshire East Council should be applauded for signing off funds to provide litter picking packs, gloves and high visibility jackets to volunteer groups across Cheshire. Around 100 packs were available, and as of this weekend a little birdie told me that around 90 kits had been claimed. School, clubs, societies and community groups have all stepped forward. We salute them ahead of their toil. The council-owned waste and recycling team ANSA will collect and recycle the bulging bags of rubbish.

But, PLEASE keep the momentum going. I’d love to see the streets of Crewe and beyond litter-free forever, not just to put a smile on the Queen’s face.

This is a start. Let’s hope the initiative never finishes…

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