Community action to clean and oil the extra long bench in Church Passage has spurred Barnet Council to act: its street scene department has carried out a power wash of a section of the paving to remove grease and grime left by accumulated food stains.
After volunteers from the Barnet Society and Barnet Residents Association spent several days washing down the bench and applying teak oil, they appealed to the council to complete the clean-up.
A power wash of the paving under the bench – and its metal framework – has given the area a much-needed make-over – although there was every hope that a wider area might have been cleaned by the council.
Since it was installed a decade ago, the long teak bench that extends for much of the length of Church Passage has become High Barnet’s most popular street art fixture – a convenient place to drink a cup of coffee or consume a take-away snack.
Needless to say the routine eating and drinking often leaves a mess and rubbish bins regularly overflow.
Two days were spent washing down the bench after volunteer scrubbers had first cleared out detritus and cigarette butts stuck between the planks.
Unfortunately, when the volunteers returned to apply teak-oil they found the bench covered again in food stains so there had to be another return visit before the job was finally completed.
Derek Epstein, the Barnet Society treasurer (far left) who organised the clean-up, said the only way to beat the picknickers – and reduce the risk of food stains penetrating the wood – was to do another quick wash and then apply the teak-oil the same day.
With Mr Epstein are leading members of the Barnet Residents Association (from left to right), Ken Rowland, Wendy Marler and Gordon Massey.
Mr Rowland, the association’s chair, asked for the council’s street scene department to power wash the area around the bench.
He also asked the council to install a special bin for cigarette butts – a request that has so far been ignored.
“Cigarette butts are a major cause of litter in the area, and we swept up literally hundreds during our clean up.
“I appreciate some form of permission would be needed, but it would be great if we could work with the council and the parish church to get a permanent solution to tidying up the area.”
The architecturally designed bench, paid for by the Mayor of London’s outer London fund, was last cleaned by volunteers in 2016.
Because of its siting under trees in the churchyard, the teak planks tend to discolour quickly with accumulations of grim and green algae.