Grime-busting pensioners launch South Downs clean up

Dirty road signs spoiling the countryside in a South Downs village have prompted two pensioners to stage a clean-up.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 11:51 am

Former lawyer Sandy Pratt and friend Malina Swann have been scrubbing filthy signs in Storrington - and have cleansed nearly 100 in less than a week.

Sixty-nine-year-old Sandy said: “I suppose it started with the realisation that the countryside and pretty villages were being marred by dirty road signs.”

And the legal eagle turned grime-buster to sort it out.

Sandy Pratt gets to work on one of the signs

“I saw what an awful state they were in and and I thought why not do something about it.”

Helped by 68-year-old diplomat’s daughter Malina, Sandy armed himself with water, bleach, a sponge and stepladder and set about his task.

They started their mission by cleaning signs near their home off Hampers Lane but have since spread further afield.

“We go out for a couple of hours a day and do 10 or 15 at a time,” said Sandy.

“We only do public signs - it could be a speed limit or directional sign, or bus stop sign.”

He said a lot of them had been left for such a long time that the grime had become so ingrained that they were impossible to clean.

“It’s disgraceful,” he said. “I’m not having a go at the relevant authorities - I’m sure they have other priorities and they don’t have an infinite pool of money.”

Sandy, who has a problem walking long distances, is ferried to the grime-spots by Malina who is every bit as enthusiastic as he is in the clean up.

She sometimes takes along her secateurs and gives nearby shrubbery a clip.

And she’s in no doubt about what is causing the signs to get in such a filthy state.

“Pollution from cars is enormous. Storrington is one of the most polluted areas in the UK.”

The couple have received massive public support from villagers who have praised their actions on social media.

But Sandy is modest in his achievements. ”It’s quite fun - I’m not on a crusade.”

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council - which is responsible for roadsigns - said: “We would like to thank these people for their community-spirited efforts but ask residents to please not use bleach on road signs as it can damage the retro-reflective surfaces and is a potential hazard to use without appropriate protective clothing.

“We would advise anyone working adjacent to the highway to please do so safely, without putting themselves, or anyone else, at risk.

“There’s information on how local communities can help tackle certain highway issues safely – including cleaning signs - by working with us through Community Highways Partnerships here: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/leisure-recreation-and-community/supporting-local-communities/improving-local-places-and-spaces/”