There’s no messing with these people!

WHEN an area’s messed up, with flytipping, dog fouling and abandoned vehicles, who do you call?

If it’s in the borough of Great Yarmouth you can call on the help of the team of Environmental Rangers, who this month celebrate 10 years of cleaning up other people’s messes.

The rangers are the borough council’s most visible and valued frontline service and they tackle a wide range of issues, such as dog fouling and enforcing dog bans, rubbish related issues, including reporting hazardous waste, flytipping and flyposting, identifying abandoned vehicles, and reporting on the condition of street furniture and children’s play areas.

In the past two years the rangers have prosecuted 13 waste offences, cautioned 14 people and issues 27 formal warnings.

Their diverse work has also seen them get involved in dealing with a variety of animal issues on the borough streets – ranging from stray dogs and cats, to snakes, a goat and a scorpion.

Launched in 2002, the Yarmouth environmental ranger service was one of the first of its kind in the country and has since been replicated in many other areas.

Over the last 10 years the rangers have become known to, and valued by, many residents and the partnership organisations their work assists.

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The number of rangers has increased from two to three, with external funding also helping create a support officer role.

The rangers regularly attend meetings with residents, schools, community groups, voluntary bodies and parish councils, in a bid to best understand the issues that are affecting local communities.

And their work has also received acclaim from much further afield.

The team have picked up awards for their work and the government and Keep Britain Tidy cited the service as an example of best practise and asked them to give help and direction to other councils wishing to set up similar services.

Word of the service also spread as far as the Middle East - with The Jordan Times reporting the minister for environment wishing to set up a similar service to what was being run in Yarmouth.

Taking both an educational and an enforcement approach, the team are presently focusing their work on the two biggest public complaint areas – people failing to clear up after their dog has fouled and the illegal depositing of waste. This task has been greatly aided by the improvements in CCTV in the borough over the last ten years.

With a string of prosecutions down the years, the recent crackdown on dog fouling has seen the rangers bringing 21 successful prosecutions, issuing five formal cautions and have a further nine cases due in court.

It is this approach that has seen Yarmouth go from being statistically amongst the worst locations in the country when it comes to dog fouling to now being in the top quarter for cleanliness.

IN the course of their work around the borough, a typical year sees the rangers:

Remove and search over 2,500 bin bags.

Carry out over 2,800 playgrounds inspections.

Deliver 3,000 dog fouling reminder letters.

Replace and put up 500 dog fouling warning stickers.

Remove around 500 flyposted signs.

Remove 60 dead animals off the roads.

Meet and greet over 1,000 dog walkers.

Offer advice on refuse disposal to around 150 trade properties.

Over the last 10 years the team estimate that they have removed around 1,500 discarded needles from the street.