Good Samaritan Gareth Burndred has been dubbed a ‘knight in shining armour’ after taking it upon himself to clear up ‘disgusting’ fly-tipping.
The 38-year-old got rid of dog poo, dirty nappies, a settee and other discarded household goods from an alleyway in Smallthorne.
The ‘towering mess’ – which had been there for more than two months – had featured in on StokeonTrentLive last week after residents living in six bungalows in Apollo Walk complained about being ‘cut off’.
It was feared emergency vehicles could not get to the homes as it is the main access to the road.
Residents contacted Stoke-on-Trent City Council to try to get the rubbish removed – but were told the authority would not shift it because the alley is ‘unadopted’.
Now Gareth, from Birches Head, has taken action himself and removed most of the rubbish in his Renault Captur following multiple trips to Burslem tip.
All that remains is a mattress and several bin bags – which he can’t collect until Saturday due to work commitments.
The dad-of-one, a branch manager for a uPVC company, said he wanted to give something back to the community after reading about it on StokeonTrentLive.
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He said: “A lot of people have helped me in the past few years for many reasons so I wanted to do something in return.
“Like many I volunteered to help the NHS during the pandemic but they haven’t contacted me yet so I felt this was a way to do something to help the community.
“I went up there on Saturday. There were dirty nappies, food and bottles of half drunk beer. It was a bit of a stalemate between the council and residents so I decided to take the bull by the horns.
“I made myself known to one of the people who live in the bungalows and told them I would take it away. Their initial response was ‘why would you do that, was it you?’ They asked if I was from the council but I told them I just wanted to help the community.
“One of the neighbours tried to give me some money but I asked them to donate it to the NHS.”
Gareth took most of the rubbish on Saturday and Sunday in his car.
He said: “A Renault Captur isn’t the biggest but if you put the seats down you can do a good tip run.
“I put some of it in my bin at home and then had a 45-minute wait to get into Burslem tip. I have to say the tip was very well organised with social distancing measures in place.”
Kath Williamson, aged 72, of nearby Horwood Gardens, was delighted with Gareth’s efforts. She said: “We’ve been visited by a Good Samaritan. He just turned up out of the blue and said, ‘I’ve come to shift the rubbish’.
“He just had a car, but he loaded it in and took it away.”
Councillor Candi Chetwynd added: “It shouldn’t take a knight in shining armour to come and move all this fly-tipping, but I’m full of gratitude, I can’t thank him enough. Pensioners were physically barricaded in by this fly-tipping and the council wouldn’t take it away because it is an unadopted road.
“It was a risk – there have been problems in the past when an ambulance couldn’t get down there. But when the council wouldn’t come this gentleman did because he couldn’t bear the thought of pensioners having to look at it.
“If it wasn’t for The Sentinel raising awareness, this fly-tipping would still be there.”
The council has handed out 63 fly-tipping fines since March 27. Sanctions include £400 on-the-spot fines or court action.
Speaking about the case to The Sentinel on Saturday, councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for the environment, said: “We are keen to work with local residents to understand why this area is so popular for fly-tipping.
“We take a dim view of people who blight our city with fly-tipping but we can only take action if there is evidence of who did it.”
To report fly-tipping call the council on 01782 234234.