Council Chair's Awards 2017/18 - Anne and Polly, winners of the Good Neighbour of the Year Award

These awards seek to recognise the contribution that volunteers make to our local community. They recognise volunteering from across a wide range of causes and from individuals to groups. The Federation of Bath Residents Associations (FoBRA) decided to nominate two proactive and determined residents living in the heart of heritage Bath: Anne Love of Rivers Street and Polly Riddle of Park Street, for the "Good Neighbour of the Year" category. We are pleased to announce that they won the award at a wonderful ceremony that saw B&NES Council recognise and thank all of the nominees.

Anne and Polly are residents of two different streets in the heart of Georgian Bath, in Rivers Street and Park Street respectively. Both streets are adjacent to the pristine and well-kept tourist routes of Gay Street and Brock Street up to the heritage destinations of Circus, Royal Crescent and St James Square. Unlike some nearby roads, Park Street and Rivers Street have a high number of street-fronting terraces with dwellings sub-divided into small flats or bedsits without any managed refuse facilities or storage areas for waste or recycling. Refuse left on these streets was a big problem on a daily basis, all week long. Every week.

The two streets were blighted by piles of refuse left rotting in sacks, even old vacuum cleaners or broken items of furniture were sometimes spotted simply fly-tipped outside front doors. The refuse left to rot often soiled the streets, as seagulls and various animals (badgers, foxes) tore open the plastic sacks or rats gnawed at the Council-provided sacks. Many sacks were so soiled that even the Council refuse teams would not take them on the weekly collection.

Having never met, Anne and Polly independently decided to take action. Both Anne and Polly have worked tirelessly to clean up their streets, week in, week out. Anne has been tenacious, ingenious and consistent, pushing landlords, tenants and residents in her street to open their eyes to the problem and to care and to do more about the look of their street. Polly has adopted a hands-on approach to removing the waste, given her slightly different landlord and resident base. Both have shown a resilient, dogged commitment to care for their public realm and to take a real civic pride in Bath.

Over more than six months, Anne knocked on doors, contacted both private landlords and registered social landlords to appeal for their help in managing their tenants and to provide better refuse management; she produced and printed her own leaflets; and she tenaciously persuaded her entire street of neighbours to keep the street clear of refuse. Where certain dwellings continued to fly tip she would gather the refuse and tell Council Connect to collect it. She simply refused to let other residents in her street continue to "turn a blind eye" to fly tipping.

Polly encountered a more transient group of residents on her street, resistant to cleaning up their act. Polly worked tirelessly, to clean the street of soiled debris after animals regularly tore open even the reusable sacks and spread it across her street. Now, each week, she collects all of the waste that the B&NES refuse collection team leave behind and (wearing her marigolds) piles it in to her car and takes it to the local recycling and refuse tip. Hearing of Anne's successful efforts Polly has now contacted Registered Social Landlords to help in her efforts in Park Street.

Both residents have adopted a zero tolerance to any refuse left outside front doors. A mammoth effort, as many neighbours will corroborate. It also takes bravery, just to keep knocking on doors or to be seen collecting other people's waste. Both Anne and Polly have, on different occasions, been on the receiving end of verbal abuse.

Both heritage streets have been transformed; they are now clean and pristine. This result, in turn, sub-consciously encourages new residents or "previous offenders" to keep the streets looking this way. It is a nicer place to live because Anne and Polly cared and were determined not to give up. Congratulations to ANNE LOVE and POLLY RIDDLE : we salute you !

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