Come on, let's clean up the town

FRIDAY was always fish and chips night at the Griffins' North Walsham home.Fred and Margaret Griffin were reminiscing fondly over the good old days when I went to talk to them about their dancing past (see page ??>.

FRIDAY was always fish and chips night at the Griffins' North Walsham home.

Fred and Margaret Griffin were reminiscing fondly over the good old days when I went to talk to them about their dancing past (see page ??>.

They remembered taking along their own tray and towel to the chippie. Their order, wrapped only in a sheet of greaseproof paper, would be placed on the tray and then they would wrap the whole lot in the towel to keep it warm til they got home.

Many of you Walshamites will have similar recollections - but if only they weren't memories.

Moans from all quarters about North Walsham's litter problem have filled quite a few column inches in the News this year, and fast-food packaging is a large part of the problem.

I'm appalled by the chunky polystyrene lidded trays, and substantial cardboard boxes used to wrap fish, chips and pizzas in the town. They must cost the vendors a fair bit to provide, on top of escalating food prices.

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I, for one, would be more than happy to pay less on the understanding that I took the food away in my own container - any North Walsham outlet brave enough to offer such a service will certainly get an honourable mention in this column.

Let's hear it from you retailers - what's stopping you? It must be very tough for small traders in a market town like Walsham to compete in a world of multi-national giants and the internet, but this is an area where you could dew diffrunt and benefit everyone.

Walsham could earn itself a positive reputation and identity for old-fashioned ways which really shouldn't be out-of-date in this environmentally-conscious age - we're talking “Back to the Future” here.

Ugly pools of cigarette butts outside shops, offices and pubs are another feature of North Walsham town centre since the smoking ban in public buildings took effect.

I was talking to a sister who lives in a part of Texas where a similar law was due to come into force this week. “You'll get the same problems we have,” I warned. “Clusters of addicted workers pretending to read the notices in shop windows while they sneak a break and a drag, and outdoor tables in restaurant courtyards and pub gardens which have become no-go areas for non-smokers.”

But she told me that there was a big difference between their law and ours. In Texas smokers are now banned from lighting up within 20 feet of a public building. I'm not quite sure where they'll find to go instead - but they will undoubtedly find somewhere.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering if it would work over here. It would certainly solve another of Walsham's litter problems - but would it spell complete disaster for our pubs whose smoking regulars, currently able to pop outside the door for a quick fag now and again, would probably opt to stay at home with a few supermarket cans? Would such a move wreck the last chance for our saloons? What do you think?

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