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Anglers pull deluge of rubbish from Taunton's filthy River Tone
Buy this photo » The team, from left, of Andy Forward, Kevin Williams, Kevin Gregson, Mike Derbe, Pete Coles, John Hunt and Bailey the dog. Missing from the picture are Steve Priddle and Chris Parr.
DOZENS of shopping trolleys, a rotavator, six bikes and road signs... items you could expect to see or buy in Taunton town centre.
But all of these items and more were pulled from a filthy 20-metre stretch of the River Tone between Firepool and Creech Castle this week.
Members of Taunton Angling Association spent hours wading through the murky, rubbish-filled river and said they decided to ditch health and safety procedures to clear the river so they could get back to enjoying their fishing.
In total, nine volunteers raked in 35 shopping trolleys, six bikes, two push chairs, one rotavator, road signs and barriers, a traffic cone, shopping baskets, tyres and other household waste.
That means if the same concentration of trolleys is dumped in the half-mile stretch of river which runs through Taunton, there could be another 1,400 trolleys hidden under the water.
Kevin Gregson, chairman of the Taunton Angling Association, said they were amazed at how littered the waterway was.
He said: “We were surprise to find as much as we did in such a short part of the river.
“It was getting worse and our lines were getting caught in the trolleys so we decided to get rid of them.
“We just wanted to clear the river up for everybody and continue to enjoy ourselves.”
Mr Gregson said the group had planned to clear a larger stretch of the river but the situation was so bad it took them longer than expected.
Taunton Deane Council disposed of the rubbish for the group, who say they plan to run another clean-up session further along the river so more anglers avoid getting their fishing lines caught in underwater debris.
Mr Gregson said: “The rest of the river has still got a lot of shopping trolleys in it and we have only done a tiny bit.
“If people have kids or dogs I would certainly say don't let them go in the river.”
The Environment Agency, who is responsible for the stretch of waterway, said the materials do not pose a flood risk but they are keen to work with groups who help to keep the rivers clean.
A spokesman said: “We want to make sure rubbish does not find its way into rivers in the first place and that it is promptly removed and doesn't become an eyesore and possible hazard when it does.”
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