A campaign to encourage Whangārei residents to take responsibility for the rubbish in their neighbourhoods has taken another step.
Whangārei district councillor Gavin Benney has organised Operation Clean Streets for this Saturday morning.
The event is an informal chance for people to pick up rubbish in their streets and parks and drop it off to several designated drop-off zones, where it will be collected and disposed of free of charge.
Benney had put the event on Facebook and had "quite a good response".
"I've had a lot of phone calls from people who are just doing areas around their house."
In particular residents in Kamo, Tikipunga and Kensington have indicated they will take part.
"If everybody cleans within 100m of their house it'll only take 10 minutes."
Several groups, some who are regular rubbish cleaners would also get involved.
Benney simply asked people to "find an area that needs attention and go hard for an hour".
People taking part should bring their own rubbish bags, wear gloves, work in pairs, wear a high-vis vest if they have one, be careful and separate rubbish from recycling where possible.
Benney also asked people taking part to take before and after photos.
"I'm trying to encourage people to do it regularly, not just because I organise it."
He wants people to pick up the rubbish they see in their street when they put their rubbish out, and pick up rubbish they see at parks and beaches.
Benney said he wasn't doing this campaign as a councillor, but as an individual. But being a councillor gives him some profile.
"We don't want to pay the council to pick the rubbish up. It's personal responsibility."
At the end of May, Benney spent two and a half hours picking up rubbish from Tikipunga roadsides, particularly along Vinegar Hill Rd.
"Half the rubbish is back there now, it's really frustrating."
He said bottles, cans and takeaway food packaging were the most common items on roadsides.
In late June, Tikipunga man Bill Edmonds spent five and half hours picking up more than 1200 pieces of rubbish from the sides of Puna Rere Drive. He believed most had been thrown out car windows.
Benney's informal clean-up comes just over a week after "a really good boot-load of rubbish" was dumped on a grass verge about 50m from the entrance to North City Caravans, on Piano Hill Rd, just off State Highway 1.
North City Caravans owner Wendy Dempster spotted the pile of kids' toys, sleeping bags, an old pot plant container and bags of rubbish, on her way to work last Wednesday morning.
"I was really shocked. To think they would just dump it. It's right next door to a stream."
She reported it to the council, and contractors cleaned it up last Thursday.
Cleaning up illegally dumped rubbish cost the council just over $200,000 in the 2016-17 financial year.
Benney said Culham Engineering was providing trucks and drivers to do the pick-ups on Saturday and the council was allowing it to be disposed of for free.
Operation Clean Streets is from 8am to 10.30am. The drop-off points are:
• Butler Place end of Kamo Recreation carpark
• Tikipunga Sports Park carpark
• South end of Kensington stadium carpark, by the old cricket club building
• First carpark on the left when travelling down Hatea Drive
• Carpark beside Otaika shops
• Onerahi end of Kissing Point