A COMMUNITY group member in Newport cleaned up dozens of bags of fly-tipped rubbish in the city centre - only for someone to set it on fire and wreck their efforts, just 24 hours later.

Paul Murphy, of Pride in Pill, spent two hours cleaning up rubbish, including dirty nappies, in South Market Street on Tuesday evening.

He took the task on following reports that rats had been seen among the waste.

Mr Murphy reported the bagged-up waste to the city council for collection, but when he passed the following evening, he saw his hard work had all been undone.

A crew from Maindee Fire Station was sent to extinguish the "deliberate" fire shortly after 9pm on Wednesday, a spokesman for South Wales Fire and Rescue said.

Pride in Pill is well known and respected for its community work and litter picks, and the group is a proud recipient of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (an MBE for volunteer groups).

Unfortunately, this is the third time the group's hard work has been ruined by someone starting a fire.

"It's really bad, people spend time cleaning in their community and somebody sets it on fire," said Mr Murphy.

"You do your best for the community, and somebody thinks it's funny [to do that]."

He also questioned why his requests for collection went unanswered.

A spokeswoman for the city council said Mr Murphy had been asked not to carry out litter collection "as our priority during the current crisis has to be safe and sustainable frontline services".


Mr Murphy acknowledged he had been asked to postpone his litter picks - and Tuesday's clean-up was his first since the lockdown began in March - but he said he felt compelled to help out when residents told him about the rat problem.

"That rubbish had been there since the start of lockdown," he said.

"With rats there, it's not safe."

He also said experience had taught him the best policy was to clear fly-tipping right away to avoid a site becoming a hotspot.

"If people see it left there, it encourages others to do the same," he said.

"You need to keep on top of it."

The council spokeswoman said members of the public should still report fly-tipping on council-owned land.

She said: "We do appreciate the work that was carried out by volunteers before the pandemic, and an initiative is due to be launched soon which will allow people to book a collection for a volunteer clean-up and get advice on how to do it safely."