A group led by Cllr Neil Sandison has vowed to fightback against vandalism and anti-social behaviour at St Andrew’s Gardens and the Pleasance.
Volunteers, including the Rev Imogen Nay, met outside St Andrew’s Church yesterday morning (Wednesday August 29) to clear the site, which hosts the graves of many beloved Rugbeians, of litter.
Cllr Sandison said: “We have had some problems with anti-social behaviour at this town centre open space just off of Church Street.
“We think it’s time to fight back and save a wonderful heritage site.
“It is a very pleasant walking area with good seating
in the Pleasance for your lunchtime sandwich or coffee break or to rest with your heavy shopping whilst waiting for the bus on Clifton Road.
“The former churchyard is a who’s who heritage site of important historical figures who contributed to Rugby in the 18th and 19th century including poets, writers, engineers, retailers and benefactors of local and national importance.
“That is why we have decided not to leave it to the vandals and litter louts.”
Cllr Sandison hopes the litter pick will mark the start of a long-running campaign to take back control of the space.
“The clean-up is just the start of this. In the future we’ll be looking to see what they can do to improve the area.”
The initiative has the support of the local police Safer Neighbourhood Team and businesses near the site.
Nearby retailers have also offered Cllr Sandison their support.
“If the area begins to get a bad reputation it can start discouraging customers and businesses,” Cllr Sandison said.
Rugby Borough Council states St Andrew’s Gardens is home to the vaults of the Bohemian Wratislaw dynasty as well as the graves of the Caldecott family - among others.
The site is also home to the grave of Frederick Wood, who played a vital role in improving the health of Rugbeians by being a member of the town’s local board of health – which was one of the first groups of its kind – formed in response to a series of public health issues in the Victorian era.
Cllr Sandison’s initiative comes after the news, published in August, of five of the borough’s parks and green spaces receiving Green Flag Awards - with Caldecott Park securing the prize for the eleventh year in a row.
Cllr Sandison said:“Our town has much to be proud of, including our history and our green spaces.
“One of the council’s corporate objectives is to have pride in our town and its history – this tidy up is part of it.”