A RETIRED parks boss is marking the 50th anniversary of an historic clean up that helped Greenock to win a national garden competition by launching a new drive.

Jim Hunter was responsible for sprucing up the area in 1970/71 and started the campaign on the Esplanade.

He and his team brought floral colour to roundabouts, town entrances and pretty tubs to railway and bus stations.

Jim, of Riverside Gardens in Gourock, said: "It is 50 years since I started 'Operation Spring Clean' and it started here on the Esplanade.

"I worked closely with former Provost Jimmy Boyd, who encouraged businesses to paint and decorate their shop fronts.

"I came up with the slogan keep the 'green' in Greenock."

In the 1970s Greenock also won the Britain in Bloom Competition, taking on some of the most scenic towns in Scotland.

Gourock later won an award in the competition for best small town.

Jim, who later became a judge for the national contest, said: "I feel in a way that we have gone back 50 years with the pandemic.

"There are no flowers in the flower beds and there is a problem with litter.

"I would like to launch a new campaign 'Take a pride in where you bide' - that's Inverclyde."

Jim has been out on a litter pick in and around the Esplanade and collected several face masks, gloves, take-away food container rubbish and cans.

He said: "I want to stress the importance of using gloves and litter pickers."

He is urging people to dispose of their rubbish responsibly and restore Inverclyde to its previous glory.

Jim recalled the time when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited IBM in 1988 and was being escorted around the plant by the communications team.

Councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld was a young communications officer at the time and he looked out the notes of the visit when arranging Prince Charles's second visit to IBM in 2001.

He said: "I looked back over the notes and it had said that Margaret Thatcher had remarked that the scenery was outstanding and how well Inverclyde had been kept.

"I know when Jim was crusading to get the area done up, IBM made a contribution and Jim planted trees all over Inverclyde."