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Family forced to abandon clean-up of New River Walk after they discover masses of drug paraphernalia

PUBLISHED: 16:22 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:57 07 January 2020

Aaren and Aiden wanted to clean up the area after noticing all the rubbish. Picture: Jemma Benson

Aaren and Aiden wanted to clean up the area after noticing all the rubbish. Picture: Jemma Benson

Archant

A family has called for better care to be taken of the New River Walk after discovering needles and makeshift crack pipes during an impromptu clean-up.

Drug paraphernalia in the New River Walk. Picture: Jemma BensonDrug paraphernalia in the New River Walk. Picture: Jemma Benson

Jemma Benson was walking with her sons Aiden, eight, and Aaren through the section near South Library in Essex Road this week when the youngsters pointed out all the rubbish.

Aiden asked his mother if they could clean it up and Jemma and her partner agreed to do their bit. They spent an hour-and-a-half bagging litter but gave up due to the unsavoury finds.

"Within seconds of starting we had to go and find a makeshift needle box," Jemma told the Gazette. "And alongside the seven needles we found home made crack pipes, 20 plus drug bags, a great load of alcohol bottles and cans and masses of broken glass. We were all incredibly shocked.

"The first needle was right by the gate. Any child could have fallen on it - that's why we continued. But we did not do a thorough job, we didn't go further back for fear of what we may discover - there is much left to do. I think it's a disgrace the green spaces we have are left to rot and our children are left to clean up."

A needle found by the gate of the New River Walk. Picture: Jemma BensonA needle found by the gate of the New River Walk. Picture: Jemma Benson

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Jemma, who walks the boys through the area every day to and from Canonbury Primary School, said she had to explain to them what some of the items were.

"We had to tell them so they didn't touch stuff," she said. "They were a bit shocked but obviously didn't know what anything was."

The area is patrolled everyday by council workers, who issue on the spot fines to anyone seen littering.

Environment chief Cllr Rowena Champion said using Islington's parks as a dumping ground or for anti-social behaviour (ASB) was unacceptable and urged people to report it.

"We know there have been issues with certain types of ASB along New River Walk," she said. "The council's ASB team and Parkguard regularly patrols the area, and council staff also pick-up litter every day, but it continues to accumulate.

"We really appreciate Jemma's family care so much about their local greenspace. At a time of drastic cuts to council budgets, the parks service is severely stretched and the efforts of volunteers, including the wonderful Friends of the New River Walk, help us to keep our parks as beautiful as they can be."

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