VOLUNTEER litter pickers Elizabeth and Eric Elstone have given up their spare time over the past six years to clear up after fellow Shaw residents with dirty habits.

But now they have decided to cut back on their efforts because the amount of rubbish they and their fellow volunteers gather is proving too heavy for them to carry.

During the latest clearing up session last week the team made up of Shaw Residents Association members managed to pick up nine large bin liners full of cans, wrappers and packaging from the half-mile of walkway between Walter Close, The Prinnels and the shops in Shaw village centre.

A disappointed Mrs Elstone said: “It’s just a mess.

“When you are walking to the shops it’s awful.

“We just feel that nine bags of rubbish from a walkway is a disgrace.”

On one occasion she picked up a needle among the strewn rubbish and one of the most depressing things was that as soon as they had cleared the walkway up more rubbish would appear almost immediately.

Sometimes they could do a litter pick, pop out afterwards to the shop to buy a newspaper and then find discarded food wrappers in the walkway on the way back.

“I know it is a proper throw-away society, but I think, to a lot of people it is like second nature,” she said.

Now the couple have decided it is time to let others take the strain of clearing up after untidy residents.

“We have had to cut back,” she said.

“I have osteo-arthritis and my husband is 70. The bags have just got too heavy for us to handle.”

The couple are among 100 residents in West Swindon who volunteer to take part in regular litter-picking sessions in the streets around their homes.

Shaw ward councillor Nick Martin praised the magnificent effort of the Elstones and sympathised with their disappointment.

“My heart goes out to them,” he said.

Most roads and footpaths in Shaw were generally free of litter and residents took it upon themselves to ensure they stayed that way, he said, with even the village centres where people congregated usually being neat and tidy.

“I have huge sympathy with the couple and admire the work they have done. Part of the difficulty is that there are one or two roads where people are remarkably thoughtless," he said.

“That area has always been difficult.”

He suggested the problem was down to some local residents, possibly young people, who lacked the right kind of guidance and had not been taught not to drop litter.