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Hampstead Heath litter picking group aim to tackle ‘major issue’ which has seen bottles, pizza boxes and even human waste spoil green space

PUBLISHED: 15:58 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:58 02 June 2020

'Get a grip' volunteers pick litter on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Nikki Newman

'Get a grip' volunteers pick litter on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Nikki Newman

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Litter has been a “major issue” on Hampstead Heath over the past week, and one volunteer took fixing things into her own hands on Monday morning.

Hampstead Heath during lockdown. Picture: Nikki NewmanHampstead Heath during lockdown. Picture: Nikki Newman

Highgate’s Nikki Newman was furious by the increase in litter seen over the late May Bank Holiday – and in response to the bottles, pizza boxes, BBQs and even human excrement – being found on the Heath, she launched a litter picking campaign calling on Heath visitors to “get a grip” and stop littering.

The campaign began with a litter pick at 7am on Monday morning, with a 30 strong team of volunteers helping to tidy up.

Nikki told this newspaper: “It went really well. The idea formed when the litter got so bad last week.

“I couldn’t believe it, especially in comparison to how lovely the Heath has been during lockdown. It’s been exacerbated by the Heath becoming a social pitstop. The amount of bottles being left is horrendous – and the most shocking thing is the amount of human excrement.”

'Get a grip' volunteers pick litter on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Nikki Newman'Get a grip' volunteers pick litter on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Nikki Newman

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Nikki said that even people trying to be responsible were leaving rubbish next to bins when they were full, and this meant “the answer has to be to take your litter home”.

She added: “We have all become so appreciative of the outdoor spaces we have, but in such a short time this has been so disregarded.”

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation who manage the Heath said: “Litter has been a major issue at Hampstead Heath in the past week. Bins were reinstated, and we have even increased the number of bins on site, but sadly a huge amount of litter is still being generated and spoiling this treasured place.

Hampstead Heath during lockdown. Picture: Nikki NewmanHampstead Heath during lockdown. Picture: Nikki Newman

“The main issue has been litter left overnight, including left over bottles of drink, pizza boxes, Deliveroo boxes, and BBQs. All of this litter has to be cleared first thing in the morning by all staff – adding increased pressure onto what is already a challenging time for our team, who are working extremely hard.”

They added it was “imperative” that visitors take their rubbish home with them.

Public toilets on Hampstead Heath remain closed as per the government’s official coronavirus advice.

Visitors to the Heath have been warned to maintain social distancing repeatedly after images showed large groups congregating.


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