A COUNCIL has joined forces with school children and Cumbria Police to help keep litter at bay in a popular play area and pump track.

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) has unveiled new signs at Queen’s Park in Windermere after nine-year-old Ava Mitchell won a competition to design a piece of artwork encouraging everyone to use the park’s bins or take their rubbish home.

Known locally as ‘The Rec’, Queen’s Park was upgraded by SLDC last year with a new-look £120,000 playground and a £50,000 pump track for cyclists, following years of fundraising with community group Windermere Park For All.

The competition to design a sign was run by PSPO Sarah Blacow, Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) for Windermere. Entries were invited from pupils at St Cuthbert’s Catholic Primary School and St Martin and St Mary CE Primary School, both in Windermere.

SLDC supplied prizes for the winner and two runners-up.

The Westmorland Gazette: WINNER: Ava's winning designWINNER: Ava's winning design

Competition winner Ava Mitchell, a pupil at St Martin and St Mary, said: “Litter harms animals and I love animals so they need to be looked after. Litter also makes the place look messy. We need to look after the world.”

Polly Straker, SLDC locality team leader, said: “With summer nearly here, the last thing any of us want is for the park to be spoiled by litter or for anyone to be injured by the likes of broken glass. We hope that everyone will heed Ava’s message to keep Queen’s Park safe and clean for all.”

Councillor Eamonn Hennessy, SLDC portfolio holder for Customer and Locality Services, said it was ‘gratifying’ to see young people taking pride in their community.

“It’s very gratifying to find young people getting involved in such initiatives and taking pride in their community, setting an example to those around them,” he said.

The Westmorland Gazette: ARMY: Windermere Mini Police picking litter at Queen’s Park, Windermere.ARMY: Windermere Mini Police picking litter at Queen’s Park, Windermere.

PSPO Sarah Blacow praised the Windermere Mini Police group for doing “a cracking job” during a recent litter pick at Queen’s Park.

“They found all sorts including, sadly, quite a bit of broken glass,” she said.

“But because of their sharp eyes we have saved others, including dogs, from being harmed.

“Making young people aware of litter being a problem hopefully educates them into later life and influences other people around them to have a sense of pride in their local community.”

The next phase of the Queen’s Park refurbishment is to raise £50,000 to replace the skate park.