A MIDDLE aged woman who had battled tirelessly to keep her area litter-free reached the end of her patience and dumped a bin bag-full of rubbish in a council sports centre.
Exasperated Jacqueline Stanhope, who describes herself as “the most boring of people”, emptied the debris in the reception of Abbey leisure centre, in Pity Me, County Durham, before staring down the CCTV camera and calmly walking out.
The bizarre incident took place on Wednesday, at about 8.30am.
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Astonished leisure staff called the police, who visited the 50-year-old at home that lunchtime for questioning but decided to take no further action.
Speaking from her home in Newton Hall yesterday (Thursday, February 27), Mrs Stanhope said: “I hadn’t committed any crime.
“All I was doing was taking the sports centre’s litter and putting it somewhere else. Let’s call it re-distribution.”
The showdown came after Mrs Stanhope fought a 14-month campaign to get Durham County Council to keep the area tidier.
She has made numerous complaints and at one stage was undertaking one-woman litter picks every day.
The crux came after council workmen cut back bushes and laid wood chippings at the leisure centre but, Mrs Stanhope says, failed to pick up the rubbish exposed by the work.
“I took the bag and tipped it in the foyer,” she said.
“Nothing had got better in a year.
“I’m the most boring person. I haven’t had a parking ticket in my life.”
On the police knocking at her door, she said: “I wasn’t surprised. I’d been waiting for them. I quite expected it.
“I choose to live in Durham. I love the city. I’ve been here 23 years.
“But this is a blot on Durham’s landscape.
“I want the council to be shamed. They are obligated to ensure land is, as far as practicable, kept clear of litter.”
A meeting between the police, council and Mrs Stanhope is planned for next week.
Ian Hoult, the council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “We litter pick twice a week in the streets around the leisure centre, run educational sessions in schools and issue fines for those caught dropping litter.
“We have already met with Mrs Stanhope to discuss any concerns and explain we are doing all we can but would also appeal to members of the public to help out by being responsible and not dropping litter.”