About Keep Wales Tidy's Tidy Towns' work in Cardiff

Hi, my name is Chris Partridge and I am Keep Wales Tidy's Tidy Towns Project Officer for Cardiff. Activities we undertake are often in partnership with Cardiff Council's Parks Department (both waste services and Community Park Rangers) and Street Cleansing. We have organised events for several businesses across Cardiff and is happy to accommodate future requests. For more information you can contact Chris on 07717 412 270 or by Email: chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org You can also follow me on Twitter for upcoming events @CardiffKWT

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

October hibernations and colonisations

As I mentioned last time, September is the busiest month of the year and I put in nearly 2 months worth of work in September, so I had the first 2 weeks of October off on flexi. This gave me a chance to have a look at projects in other parts of the country with new eyes. One of these was in my home town of Wallsend where I spoke to a local user of a Country Park, developed on an old Coal Mine from 1987. The litter and dog fouling there is a big problem and I talked to him about Keep Wales Tidy and the litter champion scheme that we have here and he said he wished that it also covered the north-east of England. Secondly, after telling my Dad about some of the things we do in Cardiff linking litter champions with Primary Schools, my Dad got in touch with the nearest primary school to him and now he volunteers there using his excellent gardening skills and the kids, the teacher and my Dad are loving it. Far too often teachers and assistants are given tasks that they know little about and are expected to just run with it (It is not just schools that this happens in that’s for sure). Well, by joining up with local expertise the teacher can quickly gain skills, knowledge and the confidence to better perform these activities. This ramble leads nicely into a lovely project in Bute Park that we were asked to do. The dock feeder, which we have pulled balsam, dug out invasive maples and cleared rubbish from, has several patches of bank which is eroding into a lottery funded footpath. We were asked to pilot a bank shoring up, or revetment, project to stop this erosion. I’d never done this before with recycled plastic revetment boards and posts, so 2 of my experienced colleagues, Thom from Blaenau Gwent and Paul from Merthyr came along to try out a feasibility 10 m section. I watched, took photos and helped in parts and it turned out to be hard work but do able.

I reckon it looks pretty good. For the only CFMEP event of the month, we finished it off by sawing the tops off the stakes, dressing the silt backfill with topsoil and added a little wildflower seed mix on top.

Carefull readers would know that we created a pond in Splott with Ysgol Glan Morfa, South Splott Residents’ Association, several church groups and physical help from John Lewis. The pond cost about £370 altogether. We only planted it in April of this year, but I led its first pond maintenance project later on this month. Armed with nets a much rake and sample trays, we killed 2 birds with one stone, we removed some overgrown pond weed and looked into the pond weed to see if it was starting to be colonised. The kids were split into 3 groups each time and were led by a local volunteer. I was extremely surprised at how well it was colonised and the best find of the day was a damselfly larva. These invertebrates can tolerate only good quality water, so that is brilliant news.

So, we built the pond with hardly any money, involved children and local residents to become stakeholders in the project from the very beginning and now we have seen that the pond is starting to be colonised beautifully already. Moreover, the children and adult volunteers know now how to do basic pond management. In a 2-3 years time we will also have to thin out the native plants that we put in there, but a great result all round. £300 of this money was from a grant from Cardiff Council’s Tidy Towns allocation and we’ve demonstrated how we can carefully spend this money with a fantastic cost/benefit ratio. Moreover, this pond can be used as a started pond for similar projects throughout Cardiff.

We now have 69 litter champions in Cardiff which is absolutely amazing (5 more waiting for kit). The latest spattering was in North Whitchurch. Over the last 2 years we have signed up quite a few in and around the Coryton roundabout which is a constant litter (including shopping trolleys) nuisance. During the coastal path clearance in Atlantic wharf earlier on in the year, 4 walking ladies joined in and said they were interested in doing some tidy ups somewhere and at some point. In September, they joined in with a clean up with Hollybush Residents’ Association, Coryton Primary, Barclays and Coryton Primary School (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCbKY78). They got in touch this month and asked to set up a group based around the North Whitchurch area. They are called Cardiff Tidy Taffs, so keep an eye out for one of their monthly tidy ups and several of the local litter champions are keen to join in to get some help. If you want to be on their mailing list, get in touch.

On the subject of finding out things, many years ago when I did some survey work for Monmouthshire Council I came across the Monmouthshire Green Web site, which had lists of events, groups and other green/outdoor related activities and opportunities. Several years ago Adansdown C1st and Adamsdown Environmental Action Group created a Green Map for Adamsdown which listed things like schools, gardens, litter problem areas and other useful information. These approaches are altruistic in their benefit to all. There have been many times, where I have thought, I’m tired and I just want to know what is on in Torfaen or Monmouthshire that I can just join in with. Well if you type in “Events in xxxxxxx” Google you get loads of sites and it is really difficult to find information. In today’s difficult environment when everyone claims to be a community hub, a third sector body blah blah blah, it is so difficult to find the basic information that can help community groups grow. Cardiff Transition Group also knows this as they are all involved in voluntary action groups in Cardiff. As such, several months ago they set up a GreenMap for Cardiff and this lists groups, activities, contact details etc. The map link is here: http://cardifftransition.com/mapping and the events page here: http://cardifftransition.com/events-home The map is cluttered (you can filter what you are interested in) and the calendar in its early stages of development, but it truly serves this altruistic purpose. It is definitely worthwhile thinking about engaging in this mapping system even if it is only to check and see what might be going on in Cardiff on one of your free days.

I have been very busy all this week on Wild Weekend projects and in Ely Baptist Church we planted some bulbs for wildlife and they planted some wildflower seeds the next day without me after I showed them how to do it.

Finally, I have also been busy trying to work out how to make bat and hedgehog boxes from wood available from Homebase as part of the Wild Weekend scheme. This is because the wood is completely different from the wood that we would normally use for these projects. These will be appearing in and around Cardiff and Torfaen in the next few weeks.