On 7th October 2020, Kieran Mullan our MP (and Crewe Clean Team member!) launched this project with a post on Facebook:
“I have been contacted by many residents in Crewe about the fly-tipping that is blighting the area. It is sad that our neighbourhoods and alley ways have become dumping grounds for waste of all kinds. I know that the overwhelming majority of people in Crewe are proud of their town, and want to play a part in keeping their streets and alleyways clean and decent, so it is something they can be proud of. I understand Cheshire East are shortly due to come up with plans to crack down on fly tippers. We need to see a real change.
But in the meantime, on Friday 16th October at 6pm, I am hosting an online and telephone public meeting to kick off a ‘Clean Alley Ways’ project in Crewe. The idea is to turn alleyways into fantastic local community spaces like the one in the picture.
We have invited some people from other projects like this who have been successful in doing this in other areas.
Crewe Residents Against Fly-Tipping and ‘Grot Spots’ (CRAFT), Crewe Clean Team, Crewe Town Council will all be joining us in this meeting and local business Radius Payment Solutions have kindly agreed to provide funding for the project.”
Letters were handed to residents on 21st May and the project started ‘for real’ the following Friday. We have been grateful for the knowledge and enthusiasm of James Coates, of Anfield Alley Angels. James used to live in the area and has overseen a similar project in a very challenging area.
We quickly decided that ‘little and often’ was the best way forward. This would offer the opportunity to meet more residents and it is they who must ultimately take responsibility for their alley way. So, two hours on Friday evening and two hours on Saturday morning are the ‘Alley Hours’.
The response from residents in ‘Guinea Pig Gulley’ has been very encouraging. Several helped out with the clearing and weeding during the first few sessions and the volunteers were kept in refreshments. There is a definite ‘Community Champion’ (CC), who is very keen for the initiative to succeed.
As well as sorting out the weeds, we have provided colour in the form of plants in lengths of gutter and pots on wooden batons. These have been placed where residents have promised to look after them.
Already the first alley way has seen more use by the community. Neighbours have been introduced to one another and have worked together for the good of their community.
The volunteer leaders and CC are in constant contact via a WhatsApp group (we will create one for each alley that we tackle). This helps with the logistics, of course, but it is important for the CC, who doesn’t feel helpless in the face of anti-social behaviour that may happen in the alley. It is important to realise that it will take time as well as peer pressure before some people change their ways and we have seen some dumping and some graffiti in the alley since we started. Now, though, many of the residents see that there is something worth having and worth protecting and there are more people willing to report anyone who threatens that.
We have a few surprises planned for this first alley. We haven’t told the residents about these yet. There are plans for a mural. It would be lovely to hand over a box with outdoor toys in – skittles, a cricket set, etc.. At the right moment, we’d like to organise a mini ‘street’ party in the alley (a bacchanalley, perhaps!), to thank everyone for helping and to bring as many residents as possible together to meet.
Each alley will be different and provide its own specific challenges and none will ever be ‘finished’, but our experience so far suggests that the project is very worthwhile. Ideally, we would like to be able to use the first alley as an example to residents elsewhere of what can be done. None of us is under any illusions about the size of the task, though!
Kieran Mullan MP
Steve Edgar Councillor, Haslington Ward
Gary Palin CRAFT
Dave McDonald Crewe Clean Team (several other members at various times)
James Coates Anfield Alley Angels
Resident Community Champion