Last Thursday, March 22nd, I took my dog for her afternoon walk up to the fields next to the A59 by-pass and round Barrow lodge.
For a couple of days I had noticed someone had tipped a large, damaged, leather settee over the edge of the small concrete bridge and into the stream below. It is bad enough seeing the detritus from the McDonalds outlet left lying in the road when there are plenty of litter bins available, so I decided to telephone Ribble Valley Council to ask if they could move it.
A pleasant young man answered the telephone and told me that as the land did not belong to the council it was not their responsibility, but, as it was in a watercourse was it going to cause problems? The answer, of course, is yes: given a day of heavy rain the obstruction in the flow would cause the brook to overflow its banks further upstream.
He recommended I contact the Environment Agency as they are responsible for rivers, which I did. The answer from them was that they were only concerned with rivers, not streams, and I should contact my local or area council.
At this point I gave up the telephone and decided to wait for my son to call in on his way home from work so we could use his estate car to move it to the council tip at Henthorn. We managed to hoist the big wet lump from the stream bed on to the bridge but, in spite of trying several different angles, it would not go into the car so at this point we had to give up and leave it.
My son drove home to Clitheroe, but en route was stopped by the police who were preparing to caution him for fly tipping. Fortunately they believed his explanation and, anyway, who would fly tip in front of an audience of three or four parked cars in broad daylight?
So, what conclusions can we draw from this modern cautionary tale of Britain’s “Big Society”?
The obvious one is don’t get involved in case things rebound on you. The other obvious one is don’t jump to conclusions without verifying the facts first. If whoever reported us to the police had seen us getting the settee out of the stream they would have known what our intentions were or, perhaps, if they had come and asked we would have been able to reassure them.
Will I be prepared to do what I regard as a civic duty in future? Yes, I think I shall, but perhaps I shall be just a little more cautious.
ARNOLD BETTESS, Barrow