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Tidy up or Mrs Mop will be after you; Team on mission to tackle grotty gardens.

Byline: By John Sutton

A TEAM of Mrs Mops has taken to the streets of one of the North's most upmarket suburbs to persuade messy residents to get their houses in order.

Beds, bikes and bottles have become regular sights in some front gardens in Jesmond, Newcastle, as more and more homes are let to short-term tenants, particularly students.

But now, a busy band of volunteers has taken matters into their own hands and are making neglectful neighbours clean up their act.

The Jesmond Residents' Association Streetwalkers urge householders to spruce up their gardens to improve the appearance of their street.

The scheme is the brainchild of Jen Shaw, 57, of Myrtle Grove in West Jesmond, who formed the plan last July after becoming fed up by seeing untidy gardens. She said: "I was becoming quite concerned about the appearance of the streets where I live, so started to tackle it off my own bat.

"Now, five of us are involved and we have gone to 54 properties since July."

People in Jesmond can ring Jen or her team to report grotty gardens. The Streetwalkers will then go round and encourage people tidy up.

Many houses in Jesmond are rented out on short-term leases, particularly to students. This leads to a high turnover of tenants, and often maintenance of the garden is overlooked.

Supply teacher Jen said that many tenants did not mean to be untidy, but were not sure about how the council organised its collection of rubbish and recyclable materials. She said: "When we knock on doors, we try to have a sense of humour. Generally, people are very co-operative."

The Streetwalkers mostly deal with complaints about discarded takeaway wrappers and bags of rubbish, but the level of grossness can be much higher. One house had raw egg congealed on the windows, and some volunteers have reported seeing evidence of rats.

Jen wants to expand the idea further to involve universities, letting agents and the Newcastle Private Rented Project, which gives support and advice to landlords and tenants. The initiative has been praised by politicians. Coun Chris Boyle, a Lib Dem who represents the South Jesmond ward, said: "I am happy to support the scheme and the council will assist them in any way we can."

North Jesmond councillor Ron Armstrong, said: "I think taking civic responsibility seriously is a good thing as long as it is done diplomatically. What the city council can do about this is limited. There can be piles of rubbish but there has to be a danger to health if the council is to intervene."


Pictures: Paul Norris ref: 01077671 CLEAR UP! Jen Shaw chats to some students about rubbish on their path.; ON PATROL: Jen Shaw inspects the streets in a bid to keep Jesmond tidy.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2008
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