As part of its drive to clamp down on littering, fly tipping and graffiti, Merton Council invites the Dangerous Theatre Group into its primary schools to get the children talking and thinking about the consequences of these environmental crimes through drama workshops.
Merton’s cabinet member for street cleanliness and parking Councillor Ross Garrod went along last week to see the Dangerous Theatre Group in action at St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School, Mitcham.
Under the guidance of artistic director Paul Wylie, the Year 6 pupils talked about the law, what happens if you’re caught littering or drawing graffiti. They also spoke about how a minority of people can spoil towns and parks for the majority of people who want to live in a clean and tidy place, which they all agreed, was not fair. The ten-year-olds then rehearsed three scenes of a play: drawing graffiti and littering in the park, being caught by the police and council enforcement officers and the court case of the culprits caught drawing graffiti and littering.
The children organised who would be director and who would take which part and then performed the play to Year 5 children later in the day.
Every year the council spends over £60,0000 on its graffiti clearing service and picks up 1,000 tonnes – that’s the weight of 79 London buses – of rubbish and fly tips.
Watching the theatre workshop, Councillor Ross Garrod said: “It was great to meet the children today and I was very impressed to see how engaged they were in performing and talking about why it’s bad to litter and graffiti. It’s important to get that message across while they are still young so they know it is wrong to drop their rubbish on the street or in the park and against the law to graffiti. Every year we spend £5 million on clearing up after people who drop their litter and fly tip in Merton. Graffiti also costs a significant amount each year to remove. That’s money we could be spending on services to benefit residents.”