Emma Harrington, Development Manager Thames21, and Steve Catchpole, Grays Beachcombers, provided Members with a history of Thames21 and how it was formed in 1998 to strengthen partnership working and to create collective responsibility for River Side Cleans undertaken in the borough. That now in 2018 there were 34 members of staff with a £1.5 million turnover. The four operational portfolios of projects are volunteering and community engagement, river improvements, education and training and public affairs.
Emma Harrington informed Members of the events undertaken since 2015 and how these had increased over the years. That working on the education of school children on how the water cycle worked and what damage pollution did to the borough’s rivers was vital. Steve Catchpole updated Members on the events being held by the Grays Beachcombers and how these were organised. That the Great British Spring Clean scheduled for 2 and 3 March 2018 relied heavily on volunteers and encouraged local residents to get involved. That work had been undertaken by DP World to remove graffiti in the West Thurrock area and the issue of more bins for dog walkers were required in the Tilbury area. Emma Harrington thanked Members for giving Thames21 the opportunity to present and was keen to continue working with Thurrock and be involved in other projects.
Councillor Jones thanked Emma Harrington and Steve Catchpole for their presentation and on behalf of the Council and residents thanked them for their hard work and commitment.
Councillor Jones asked whether it was a challenge to find volunteers. Emma Harrington stated that although there were a lot of volunteers the concern was notifying them of the events. That posters on future events were now being displayed in 6 different languages and was proving effective. That it was not everyone’s choice to pick up litter and stated that neither residents nor Thames21 were responsible for this rubbish, it was rubbish coming up from the Thames.
Councillor Collins echoed Councillor Jones appreciation of the work undertaken and had Thames21 contacted the Council with regard to getting more bins. Emma Harrington stated that contact had been made with the Council and that for sites in Tilbury there had been issues with land ownership. Julie Rogers asked Emma Harrington to contact her outside the meeting to discuss further and come to an agreement on the way forward.
Councillor Piccolo asked whether a money generated income could be made from the cans and bottles collected. Emma Harrington stated that Thames21 was more of a scheme that concentrated on education, training, recycling and reduction of landfill than income generation.
Councillor C Kent thanked Thames21 for their presentation and asked what the age range of school children were being targeted on the education of litter and plastic bottles. Emma Harrington stated that the school scheme concentrated on the open water cycle and how plastics could be recycled. That Thames21 would be keen to work with schools and development modules that could be used to talk and develop the knowledge of school children.
Councillor Jones asked how many events had been scheduled and how were these planned. Emma Harrington stated that the Grays Beachcombers set monthly dates, normally the first Sunday in the month, following conversations with volunteers on where best to meet and what resources were available. Consideration on times would also be reliant on the times of the tides.
Councillor Jones thanked Thames21 and Grays Beachcombers for their hard work and asked that this was fed back to all volunteers.