Parks forced to close by 'appalling' piles of rubbish left by crowds in post-lockdown scramble

Jimmy Nsubuga
·4-min read
Rubbish left all over the Arboretum in Nottingham on Monday evening. (Reach)
The Arboretum has closed due to crowds leaving huge amounts of rubbish. (Reach)

Nottingham has closed two parks after large crowds gathered and left rubbish in "appalling scenes" when lockdown was eased this week.

Nottingham City Council leader David Mellen said the Arboretum and Lenton Recreation Ground were closed on Wednesday due to “the actions of a thoughtless minority” who descended on the location during this week's heatwave.

A dispersal order was put in place at the Arboretum, as footage posted on social media captured a brawl and dozens of people drinking, ignoring social distancing rules and leaving behind large amounts of litter.

The easing of lockdown restrictions on Monday means people can now meet up to six other people outdoors.

It was followed by the hottest day of the year, and the hottest March day in 53 years, when temperatures peaked at 24.5C (76.1F) at Kew Gardens in west London on Tuesday.

Many people have been taking the opportunity to meet up, leading to massive clean-up operations in parks and beaches across the country, including in Leeds, Birmingham and London.

Read more: UK beaches 'could ban people from daytime drinking’ after council introduces £1,000 fines

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Arboretum park in Nottingham has been closed. (Reach)
The Arboretum in Nottingham has been closed. (Reach)
Social media footage showed fights, drinking and a lack of social distancing. (Reach)
Social media footage showed fights, drinking and a lack of social distancing in the Arboretum in Nottingham. (Reach)

Mellen said he regretted having to close the two Nottingham parks but that the city’s already stretched crews could not deal with cleaning up the extra mess.

He said he would keep the situation under review and hoped to reopen the parks “as soon as possible”.

Mellen said: “We have taken steps to prevent a repeat of the appalling scenes we witnessed at the Arboretum on Monday evening.”

He added: “At our other parks, we have increased patrols of community protection officers who along with police officers will continue to rigorously enforce the ban on drinking in public spaces that’s in place across Nottingham.”

Watch: Shocking footage shows dreadful state of park after lockdown restrictions eased

Volunteers, council workers and police help clean up rubbish in Woodhouse Moor, Leeds. (SWNS)
Volunteers, council workers and police help clean up rubbish in Woodhouse Moor, Leeds. (SWNS)
Thousands of revellers descended on Woodhouse Moor in Leeds. (SWNS)
Thousands of revellers descended on Woodhouse Moor. (SWNS)
The park is located in a student area of Leeds. (SWNS)
The park is located in a student area of Leeds. (SWNS)

Pictures also showed the terrible state of a park in Leeds after thousands of sunseekers congregated there.

Beer bottles, disposable barbecues, food wrappers and shards of glass could be seen strewn across the grass.

A council crew arrived at Woodhouse Moor early on Wednesday morning to begin the clean-up and were expected to remain in place well into the afternoon.

PhD student Sophie Meredith, 26, told PA: “It’s really disgusting that people left their litter piled up by the bins and across the grass, and it’s an issue that happens every time there’s a hot day in Leeds.

“Today was the worst I’ve ever seen it, and it’s probably made worse by the fact that everyone’s been cooped up for a year, and there’s not enough bins in that park and they hadn’t been emptied for a few days prior.”

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “Whilst recognising that people will be keen to meet up with friends and family in our parks and green spaces given the relaxation in some coronavirus restrictions this week, we are asking residents to still fully respect all of the guidance currently in place. 

"This includes those rules relating to social distancing and gatherings."

Meanwhile, TV personality Judge Robert Rinder tweeted a picture of a council worker cleaning rubbish in Primrose Hill, north London, on Wednesday, adding: “Leaving your rubbish for others to pick up is halitosis of the human soul.”

Images also showed waste left in Battersea Park in south London.

Read more: COVID warnings as thousands hit beaches and parks as lockdown eased

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Litter covered Primrose Hill in Regent's Park London. (SWNS)
Litter also covered Primrose Hill in north London. (SWNS)
Another image showing the state of Primrose Hill. (SWNS)
Another image showing the state of Primrose Hill. (SWNS)
Bins overflow with rubbish in Battersea Park in south London after yesterday's record breaking warm weather. Picture date: Wednesday March 31, 2021. The UK may be about to experience its hottest March on record with temperatures forecast to soar to around 25C (77F).
Bins overflow with rubbish in Battersea Park in south London. (PA)
Discarded rubbish left by beachgoers at Brighton Beach, East Sussex. Picture date: Wednesday March 31, 2021. The UK may be about to experience its hottest March on record with temperatures forecast to soar to around 25C (77F).
Discarded rubbish left by beachgoers at Brighton Beach. (PA)

Elsewhere, police in Birmingham issued no fines in Cannon Hill Park despite large crowds and “music and lighting being set up”.

But some of the grass-mowing planned across the city's parks was suspended so council workers could focus on litter-picking.

And in Sheffield a massive litter-picking operation started at 6am on Wednesday, with the city council posting a video of rubbish strewn across Endcliffe Park.

The council tweeted: “We know people have missed socialising in the sun but this is not what is meant by easing out of lockdown.”

Watch: How England will leave lockdown