A GROUP which has played a hands-on role on helping to keep Malton and Norton free of litter is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Malton and Norton Tidy Group was set up in 2009 with the view of providing and maintaining a clean environment across the two towns for the benefit of residents, visitors and local businesses.

Antony Croser, from the group, said: “At the time Malton had a town centre manager and they put a call-out to residents to highlight issues of concern.

“Four people, Angie Gare, Nick Fletcher, Sarah Housden and myself, raised the issue of litter and were brought together to set up the informal Malton and Norton Tidy Group.

“Since then the tidy group has met monthly - Malton one month, Norton the next - and hardly a session has been lost to the weather in all that time.

“In addition, individuals carry out further litter picks across the community to try to keep on top of the issue.”

Antony said that over the years volunteers had come and gone. “There was a constant 10 to 12 participants at the monthly meets, but in recent years the number of volunteers has grown and these events are regularly attended by around 20 people - there have been as many as 32 people at one event,” he said.

“As a result of these efforts, since 2013 over 2,200 bags of litter, plus debris, have been collected from across the community.”

Antony said that while the tidy group concentrates its efforts on the roadside verges and areas away from the town centre, where much of the litter comes from passing traffic, there is hardly an area of the towns that has not been tackled.

“Collections are largely made up of cans, plastic bottles and food packaging but there are always surprises - items of clothing, a hamster’s cage, CDs, a bag of fish, and money,” he said.

“The tidy group’s work makes a real difference - areas picked are generally not as bad as they once were but more volunteers and more ground covered means the number of bags collected is still significant - 480 bags have been collected in 2019.”

As well as litter picking, members of the tidy group also look after the public noticeboards, carry out sweeping and weeding, and help with community gardening. A

Antony said: “All this work compliments the work of Malton in Bloom and was referenced by the Yorkshire in Bloom judges in 2018. A good number of volunteers get involved directly with both groups.”

As with litter picking groups and individuals across Ryedale, the tidy group is fully supported by Streetscene of Ryedale District Council who have provided litter pickers, hi-vis vests and bags, and take away the litter that has been collected.

Antony said: “There are community litter picking groups throughout the country - doing a fantastic job and working to promote civic pride in their communities.

“A clean, healthy environment is good for us and for our economy.

“It plays an important role in improving our well‑being and it

helps our businesses to be more successful.”

He added: “There is talk of introducing deposit schemes for cans and plastic bottles in an effort to reduce litter.

“This may solve some of the problem, and volunteer litter pickers could become time rich or cash rich through it, but from the varied litter that is collected it does not look like the likes of Malton and Norton Tidy Group will hanging up their litter pickers any time soon.”

For more information, go to the Malton and Norton Tidy Group on Facebook