A pensioner who has dedicated 25 years to clearing dumped rubbish from his home town says he was left "embarrassed" after being told he now needs a licence to take it to the tip.
Frank Sparkes, 76, gained the nickname the "North Wall cleaner" after devoting hours to keeping Cleethorpes' North Wall clean and clear of waste.
But after winning a civic award for his work around the 13-mile tidal defence wall, he was eventually turned away by Grimsby Recycling Centre under rules on fly-tipping.
He told the Grimsby Live website: "I was taking mattresses and house waste before and now I can't take them, and I've been turned away three times."They're saying that because I've entered into the streets I'm classed as commercial now, so I'll need a special waste carrier licence. But I'm not a business and everything's coming out of my own pocket, it's a passion of mine and I just want to make a difference."
Frank, a former painter and decorator, began his litter-picking mission after taking part in a police-run scheme encouraging young people to contribute to their communities in 1998.He said: "All summer holidays me and the kids went out, and it helped the kids and kept them off the streets."After they went back to school, I couldn't let it go. I just loved keeping it clean and helping the wildlife. It was disgusting, it really was, and I just wanted to get it sorted out. So for 25 years I've been doing it on my own with a big old wooden trailer."
Frank, who lives on the Nunsthorpe estate and also collects rubbish and fly-tipping in that area, was praised for his "selfless work" when he won an environmental impact award at the town's Civic Awards this year.
But he says he is now being forced to leave bulky items behind when he takes other rubbish to the tip in his trailer."It's so emotional," he said. "I go down that wall and see rubbish I can't take and I know I can't take it, but I can't rest until I can pick it up because I know when I go again it'll just get built up and built up and the fly-tipping will start again. I've saved birds in nets and all sorts down there, it's not just fly tipping, I'm saving the wildlife too."It hurts me. It's been like this since I won the award."Giving me an award for what I do and then saying I can't do it, it's embarrassing. I've done it for so long, mainly on my own. I feel as if I'm being targeted."Frank has now launched an online fundraising appeal to hire a skip once a month to dispose of larger items
A North East Lincolnshire Council spokesperson said: “Frank does a great job getting rid of litter and we really appreciate the time and effort he puts in to making the borough a better place.“We don’t set the legislation relating to waste management, that’s done by central government. Under the rules, fly-tipped waste is treated differently to littering and this is where we need to make sure we all abide by the legislation.“We are happy to speak with Frank and look at how we can work together to resolve this.”
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.