BIG-HEARTED volunteers, who cleared 120 tyres from the River Crouch, will not have to pay hundreds of pounds for them to be taken away after all.

A team of public-spirited residents spent a day pulling junk from a 300-yard stretch of the river, where it passes through Memorial Park, Wickford.

But, despite their good work, it looked like they were going to have to pay around £400 to get rid of the tyres through a waste disposal company, after the Environment Agency, Essex County Council, and Basildon Council all refused to take them.

However, two private tyre companies have now come forward and offered to take them free of charge, after staff read about the volunteers’ plight in the Echo.

Basildon Council’s cabinet member for the environment, Malcolm Buckley, has also now made a personal intervention.

He said: “I read your story on Tuesday and was disappointed that members of the public, who had done such a good thing for the community, should be left out of pocket. I have now authorised our officer to collect the tyres.”

Mr Buckley still believes the Environment Agency should have taken the tyres away, because 120 tyres from such a short stretch of river must have increased the flooding risk.

Peter Rickett, spokesman for the Environment Agency, said: “We will be happy to discuss this with the council.

“However, we are responsible for clearing rivers at risk of flooding. Our environmental managers didn’t consider this a risk.”

One of the volunteers, Peter Steward, 51, of Seven Sisters, Wickford, said: “I’m relieved someone has finally agreed to take them away anyway.”

Roy Hart, 63, of Chelmsford Road, Battlesbridge, said: “It looks like we’ve finally burst the bubble of bureaucracy, and I’m glad Mr Buckley has seen sense.

“It’s such a lovely river, which ought to be kept clean.

“However, I think we will go with one of the private firms to take away the tyres.”