Published: 00:01, 15 June 2014
A councillor told an arthritic pensioner to pick up other people’s rubbish rather than moaning about the mess.
Carol Keenan and her neighbours had complained to Ashford Council and Kent County Council that litter and foliage were not being cleared from a service road parallel to Hythe Road.
But during an emailed conversation ward member Cllr Andrew Mortimer suggested Ms Keenan and her neighbours, many of them also elderly and with health problems, organise a community litter pick rather than complaining to the council.
He wrote: “A more effective solution could be to have a local community litter pick day.
"The council can help in providing litter picking equipment, bags, gloves etc and I am willing to help you organise it.
"Events like this are quite common in the borough and have proved successful.”
Cllr Mortimer then invited the women to join in with a litter pick he had helped organise at nearby Sweetwillow Wood in Kennington.
Seventy-four-year-old Ms Keenan, who has arthritis of the spine and a heart condition, was not impressed and simply replied: “You can’t be serious!”
She said herself and two other residents, aged 47 and 79, “constantly clear up the takeaway rubbish in our front gardens” but added it was “hardly practical” to expect them to clean the whole street.
Cllr Mortimer said he had not expected Ms Keenan to pick up the rubbish herself but added that her condition would not stop her organising a litter pick.
He said: “Having arthritis doesn’t prevent people organising something like that. I am happy to help her.
"I wasn’t being sarcastic when I suggested a litter pick. I do think the community should do things for themselves.
"We would love to be able to clean up all the rubbish in the borough but we are realistic about what we can achieve with our money. This is something the community can share with the council.”
Cllr Mortimer said 22 residents took part in the litter pick in Sweetwillow Wood, close to the William Harvey Hospital, but admitted most were in their 40s or 50s, with the oldest in their 60s.
He said the volunteers, who picked up 10 bags of rubbish, were considering holding another event later in the year but hoped the sight of the newly-cleaned woods would discourage people from dropping litter in the first place.