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Ormesby man's market place cleaning job plea rejected

PUBLISHED: 14:55 18 January 2012

Michael Beck who has been picking up litter from the Market Place in Great Yarmouth for 10 years for free. 450 people have signed a petition to get the council to give him a job doing it.

Picture: James Bass

Michael Beck who has been picking up litter from the Market Place in Great Yarmouth for 10 years for free. 450 people have signed a petition to get the council to give him a job doing it. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

HIS dream job would be cleaning Great Yarmouth Market Place of chip forks and cigarette butts, and more than 450 people signed a petition to say he was the man for the task.

But Ormesby man Michael Beck - who has spent every day for the last decade cleaning the town centre for free - has been told there is no job for him.

The 49-year-old, who suffers with epilepsy, had hoped to turn his pride in the town into a paid job to get off benefits. But after being turned down by the council he says he is not going to clean the market place any more.

“I don’t want to stop, as I like seeing Yarmouth tidy,” he said.

“But why should I do it and not get paid when people are doing it and leaving rubbish behind? I might be a bit fussy but I like seeing Yarmouth at its best.”

In a letter to Mr Beck, the council says most people are happy with the market place and think it is clean and tidy.

“I think it’s stupid,” said Mr Beck. “There’s a ridiculous amount of fag ends about - how can they say it’s clean?”

The conscientious cleaner suffered horrendous injuries when he was knocked down by a car in April 1987 and is on incapacity benefit with epilepsy and severe memory loss.

But he says cleaning the market place has given him a sense of purpose.

A response from Duncan Mallett, the council’s market manager, broke the bad news to Mr Beck.

It states the council has contracted Norse - formerly GYB Services - to carry out cleaning and bin emptying at the market and the council is pleased with this service. Mr Mallett offered to forward Mr Beck’s details to Norse, and added while the council cannot employ him on the market they will try to help.

“If you are happy I am quite willing to spread the net more widely for you and write to all of our traders on your behalf,” he wrote.

He added he thinks the Market Traders Federation are better placed to help Mr Beck. But Mr Beck said: “When nearly 500 people say they want someone to clean the market, doesn’t that tell the council something?”

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