In this special report for the Darvel Magazine Cllr Sally Cogley talks about her experiences, plans and motivations for cleaning up the Valley.

Yes, it was odd to be elected to represent the constituents of ward 6 under this banner, but it worked, it got me elected and what a busy 2 years it has proven to be. I look forward to continuing to campaign on rubbish matters and to making a difference.

I have thrown myself in to the work of an elected member- locally on the issues which I feel passionately about and for which I was elected, and more generally for all of the other activities and responsibilities which go with the role.

I am delighted to be writing this short piece for the Darvel Magazine, I am intentionally keeping it specifically about littering and look forward to making contributions about other matters in the future.     

My littering initiatives commenced 10 or so years ago when I organised my first litter picks in Galston. I had become very despondent about what I perceived to be a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude to littering and a nationwide (by which I mean UK) disregard for the environment,  a psyche seems to have developed that seemed to say just chuck your litter on the ground, in rivers or in the sea. This being in stark contrast to so many other green and environmentally responsible movements. 

My work with Loudoun Academy in relation to litter commenced about 6 years ago (as a community councillor). So it was a moment of great personal triumph and pride when we launched our ‘Litter in schools’ initiative in Loudoun Academy in September 2018, this was the culmination of much hard work by myself, the school and a number of officers representing different departments from EAC. I am so proud that this work is now being championed and taken forward throughout the authority. Essentially, if a pupil is caught littering on the way in or out of school, they will be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £80, along with a cover letter to their parent/ guardian which allows for the cancellation of the FPN if the parent/guardian agrees for the pupil to attend a litter pick at the school. The pupils responded brilliantly and there was an immediate and sustained behavioural change – reinforced by the regular visits of our enforcement officers.

The primary school programme (which is purely educational and not punitive) is now being rolled out to the 6 feeder schools for Loudoun Academy, the primary schools in Fenwick, Hurlford, Galston Newmilns and Darvel. The message for these younger children is a litter and dog poo free journey to school, with the accompanying slogan – thought up by the children:

‘think, stop, don’t drop’    

From September 2019 this whole programme will be rolled out into the other education groups within EAC. I’m learning as we go along – as this is uncharted work for me and I am very keen that the initiative is delivered at a speed that can be effectively managed. I sincerely hope that the educational messages are reinforced at home.

Running alongside this Litter in Schools Initiative, I have just commenced work with Ayrshire Roads Alliance (ARA) to counter the awful littering and fly tipping messes that we see on our road sides, verges, junctions and roundabouts. This work is in its infancy so – please watch this space!