Hundreds of people enjoyed picnicking on Mill and Marsh Meadows on Saturday in the sunshine, unfortunately though they left most of their rubbish strewn all over the meadows.
Angry local residents aired their views on Facebook and posted these photos showing the rubbish.
Oliver Miles who posted the first photos said, “I’ve never see such a complete mess as this morning down on Mill Meadows. I gave up taking photos as the total mess of plastic, bags, food, bones, plastic drifting into the river was so annoying that I couldn’t take any more than this. To the complete and utter prats who thought having hundreds of people having a BBQ in a public place without permission, thank you for leaving our normally beautiful meadows in tact. THIS HAS TO STOP BEFORE IT GETS WORSE. I have two dogs and we cannot walk them down the river in the summer because of the this and the abuse we receive from those having the BBQs. I’m not alone and I’m fed up. Henley Town Council had better sort this out before further incidents and pollution happen. Well done those who’ve had the BBQs, you’ve ruined it for the rest.”
Many of the people picnicking and barbecuing were celebrating the Sikh Vaisakhi festival.
Councillor Will Hamilton posted, “So tonight I have been down to the Mill Meadows and I have explained the problems of last night. I spoke with six separate groups all barbecuing who were all responsible, friendly, and apologetic. They would like to come again next year on the same date. They realise they need better planning and to contribute to the cost of the bins and collection. Tonight’s crowd will take all their rubbish home and they have refuse bags to do so. The way forward is to have a proper dialogue with every group. And I will call on the Mayor to have a Special Full Council or an agenda item for such a discussion. So we all do care, and despite the hiatus of the last year, we want to make our parks great again.”
Henley Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton said, “Like everybody who has commented on social media or visited the area yesterday or the day before, I am disgusted by the reported incidents on Saturday 14th at Mill and Marsh Meadows. This is not something new and is something that has been discussed and dealt with several times by the relevant council committees. We have tried numerous things such as extra staff on duty, communicating with certain community groups we have known to be responsible previously, banned bbqs, allowed bbqs but with designated areas/bbq stumps, installed signage. Like all councillors, I’d like to resolve this and we are open to suggestions. There have been some great ideas already from residents which Cllr Sarah Miller has already put forward to be discussed as she chairs the Recreation and Amenities Committee. However, despite whatever we come up with to help when these problems arise, there will always be some people who disrespect the area when they visit. It is at those times we also need to be able to rely on our local police to assist, although I am aware they can only do something if there is illegal activity going on. Catching people in the act of doing something is hard. As usual, the Park Services team is there to make things right and particular thanks should go to Alex Bell, who had to deal with the enormous mess when he turned up for work the next day!”