Local councillors this morning met with Naomi Smith, a local resident who has launched a public petition on the issue of bins along the sea front. Naomi’s petition has gathered in excess of 2,000 signatures since it was launched less than five days ago and highlights the depth of public feeling on the issue.
Naomi’s petition gives weight to the campaign launched by local councillors Valerie Kenny & Chris Cornell and Rosie Duffield MP on the 22nd of June. In a joint letter to Colin Carmichael, Labour called for:
- a trial of big belly bins used by other local authorities over the summer
- additional bins between the Pearsons Arms and Neptune
- improved signage encouraging litterers to change their behaviour
The letter, also sent to the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, highlighted the persistent problems of anti social behaviour in the area and resulted in Kent Police initiating a dispersal order for the weekend beginning the 26th June.
In response the letter, Canterbury City Council has deployed several larger 1100l bins to the beach and announced the publication of a Coastal Management Plan which will highlight multi agency work aimed at improving beach cleanliness. However, Naomi’s believes this is not enough.
“Whitstable is drowning in litter” she said “. I walk my dog every single morning and I’m sick and tired of having to clean up after other people”. Her petition calls for:
- the trial of big belly bins over the summer
- improve signage with stronger messaging
- more flexible and later collections from SERCO operatives on the beach
In her petition, Naomi notes “these ideas are simple and working in other places I’ve visited. I want to be able to enjoy being in on the beach without a mountain of rubbish piled on the nearby pavement”.
In the discussion Naomi was joined by Mel Green of Whitstable’s Marine Environment Group to discuss other ways in which the community can continue to apply pressure on the council. They discussed the effectiveness of Public Sector Protection Orders favoured by the council in dealing with the issue and the importance of ensuring that when, and if, the collection of beach litter returns to council management, the new contract should:
- label each bin and include details of how members of the public can report that it is full. This system could work similar to the traffic lights used by the council to show how they respond to complaints over graffiti
- include six monthly reports to the local Whitstable Forum so that residents have a chance to directly challenge the management and feed in local intelligence
- include easier ways of local people reporting problems with collection during the peak weekends and clear protocols to ensure extra operatives can be brought into town on sunny days
- have provision for later collections until at least 8pm and perhaps 9pm in the summer months. Collections currently stop at 7pm.
Councillors Kenny and Cornell have agreed to take this ideas forward.
The discussion also suggested joint enforcement blitzes between CCC and Kent Police to fine people for littering on the beach. Littering is a crime under the Coastal Public Spaces Protection Order but a freedom of information request submitted by the Marine Environment Group last year, revealed that only one person had been ever successfully served for beach littering.
Speaking of the meeting, Councillor Chris Cornell said:
” Naomi’s campaign again highlights what a hot topic this issue is in town. People are sick and tired of inaction by the council and we are hopeful that some of the demands we have been making over the last year are now being heard”.
Councillor Kenny ended by saying: “This isn’t about the taxpayer paying for a constant clean up, it’s about the council putting in place the infrastructure we need to make our town a safe place tourist wants to visit.” Moving forward local councillors will be working with community campaigners to ensure the Coastal Management Plan isn’t just an exercise in ‘fobbing off’ local people but a important document, regularly reviewed, which local people can have confidence in.
We thank Naomi and local people for their campaign.