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Campaign launched to respect West Berkshire's countryside as lockdown could be eased



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A CAMPAIGN has been launched asking people to respect and take care of West Berkshire's cherished countryside as summer arrives.

Respect Our Parks and Open Spaces went live on Tuesday to highlight problems in rural and green spaces, and how to avoid them.

The West Berkshire Council campaign says that a general lack of awareness has caused problems for landowners, including reports of picnics and games of golf taking place in farmers' fields.

West Berkshire Council has launched its Respect Our Parks and Open Spaces campaign (47854635)
West Berkshire Council has launched its Respect Our Parks and Open Spaces campaign (47854635)

It added that dogs straying from public rights of way were a serious threat to wildlife and farm animals, along with cyclists riding on public footpaths and off-road vehicles damaging land.

The campaign encourages people to take their rubbish and dog waste home and dispose of it in their own rubbish bins.

It highlights that farmland is private property and that straying from public rights of way can cause damage to crops.

Thatcham housing development plans -Cox Lane looking towards Colthrop (45521387)
Thatcham housing development plans -Cox Lane looking towards Colthrop (45521387)

It asks people to keep their dogs close, preferably on a lead, when using public rights of way to ensure that they can't chase wildlife and livestock.

And it reminds people to check safety advice and permissions, and plan activities carefully to avoid accidents.

The council said that a surge of outdoor activity during lockdowns had led to a huge increase in the amount of litter being left behind, along with overflowing dog waste bins.

West Berkshire Council countryside manager Paul Hendry said: "We are delighted that our parks, playgrounds and the surrounding countryside have become such popular destinations for people of all ages.

Greenham Common - Thornford Road - Fly tipping - West Berkshire waste management team and Contractors Veolia looking evidence. Picture Phil Cannings (46407768)
Greenham Common - Thornford Road - Fly tipping - West Berkshire waste management team and Contractors Veolia looking evidence. Picture Phil Cannings (46407768)

"Whilst we, and our parish and town councils provide a number of bins across the district, unfortunately our bins aren't always big enough to deal with the high level of waste that picnics and barbecues generate.

"We ask that people take their rubbish home with them instead of piling it up beside an already full bin, or leaving it on a bench to be collected.

"Although we have increased resources to deal with demand there will be periods during the summer months when resources are stretched.

Greenham Common - Thornford Road - Fly tipping - West Berkshire waste management team and Contractors Veolia looking evidence. Picture Phil Cannings (46407779)
Greenham Common - Thornford Road - Fly tipping - West Berkshire waste management team and Contractors Veolia looking evidence. Picture Phil Cannings (46407779)

"We created this campaign with various partners to ask the public to please help to keep our parks, playgrounds and countryside litter-free and looking beautiful, so that everyone can continue to enjoy them."

The Respect campaign uses colourful banners with a simple message to remind people to enjoy outside spaces, respect other users and take rubbish home.

The campaign also highlights the fact that not everyone who visits the countryside is aware of, or follows, the Countryside Code.

West Berkshire Council has launched its Respect Our Parks and Open Spaces campaign (47854633)
West Berkshire Council has launched its Respect Our Parks and Open Spaces campaign (47854633)

West Berkshire Council's executive member for planning, transport and countryside, Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South and Holybrook), said: "West Berkshire is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so it is understandable that people want to visit, particularly during the summer months when the weather is fine.

"The council actively encourages people to enjoy our parks and open spaces for exercise and for leisure to support good physical and mental wellbeing.

"Large areas of our countryside, however, are privately owned, so we need to ensure that people are familiar with, and follow, the Countryside Code to prevent damage to crops and be mindful of livestock and wildlife.

"It is also important to give other people enough space, particularly if you are riding a bike, running or walking with a group – so that everyone can relax and enjoy their time outdoors."

The campaign supports the council's priority to recover West Berkshire's health and social wellbeing as well as supporting its Environment Strategy.

For more information about the campaign visit https://info.westberks.gov.uk/RespectOurParks



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