A CAMPAIGN to tidy up the streets of Southend got off to a fantastic start, with a united effort to clean up part of the town.

The Echobacked campaign is the work of the South Essex Association of Landlords (Seal), which aims to ensure all landlords operate toaminimum standard for their properties.

The first Street Blitz saw members of Seal, councillors, residents, volunteers from the Southend Association of Voluntary Services, police and council, along with members of Turning Tides Triple T youth club, turn out in droves to tackle town centre eyesores.

They focused on an area covering eight streets between Whitegate Road and Herbert Grove, with the help of local businesses who provided their services free of charge – including GBN Skips, which provided six skips and a team of five employees.

Seal member Judith Codarin said: “It went really well, and the Street Blitz initiative is now launched and ready to learn and grow.

“Saturday morning saw the delivery of the free skips by GBN Skip Hire. By Saturday afternoon at least one in Whitegate was full and the blitz had not even begun.

“On Sundaymorning so many people turned up and came out of their houses. It was a huge effort to smarten up eight streets in one day. The turnout was humbling to see.”

Ms Codarin added: “We had to get three more cage lorries from GBN to clear the rubbish before the skips could be removed.”

Letting agents Pace, Regis Direct and Hopsons helped Seal organise a survey of the roads ahead of the blitz, to highlight problem areas.

Ms Codarin said: “We visited every home in the eight streets, and if we got no answer we called twice. The residents were very positive once we had explained our plans to help them tidy up their streets.

“They said they like living so centrally, but they want the rubbish management and storage improved, so every house has a form of rubbish container that stops animals from tearing open the bags.”

Youngsters proved they weren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves to get stuck in.

Hayley Duff, Turning Tides Triple T youth club team leader, said: “Children aged from seven to 12 took part in the clean-up.

They helped with tidying up the gardens, litter-picking and other odd jobs. There were lots of weeds on the pavements, so they helped to clear them.

“They all got stuck in and they enjoyed an ice lolly at the end, as it was quite hot.

“It was good for them to take part in something to help the community and gave them a sense of pride.”

Ms Duff added: “I think the event was a really good idea.

Turning Tides has been involved in street clean-ups before, but we haven’t had landlords involved before.

“When the kids were tidying the gardens some neighbours came out and started tidying theirs. The kids designed the Seal banner and got to take it with them, so they were quite proud of that.”

Ms Codarin added: “We have learned a lot about how to run a Street Blitz. We have the paperwork and banners, the calling cards all ready for the next one, or to lend to other groups. Most important of all is we have some relationships within these streets to build on, so that some form of community group will emerge. Seal will be supporting them with information, techniques and contacts, equipment and funding.”