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Residents call for action over flytipping in Kemsing Gardens, Canterbury

Frustrated residents plagued by flytipping for decades say the council tip is cleaner than their "eyesore" road.

People living in Kemsing Gardens in Canterbury are being forced to live amongst crumbling garages overflowing with dumped waste, piles of stained mattresses, unwanted office furniture and discarded building materials.

Residents are angry at the rubbish left near their homes

They say the long-running problem is becoming dangerous and out of control, and are urging the city council to take action to clamp down on the culprits.

Among them is Rani Babra, who says: "It's a dump. Why should anyone in today's society have to live in situations like this? I'm absolutely aghast at the state of affairs.

"I want to know who's responsible. I've not seen one single person who may own or rent those garages come and inspect them to put them right.

"The flytipping is obviously happening at night when we're all asleep. We have tried to catch people out but obviously we're missing it.

"They need to be held accountable for the mess they have left. They can't do this any more - we're not putting up with it."

Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding speaks to residents about their concerns
Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding speaks to residents about their concerns

Her husband Paul Babra described the road as "an eyesore to look at".

"The state of the area is obviously alarming," he said. "The local authorities are well informed about the issue and it's about time someone should come out and take necessary, drastic and quick action.

"We've been complaining and complaining for years."

His pleas were echoed by neighbour Ros Phillips, who has lived in the street for 40 years and says flytipping happens on a weekly basis.

She previously called on the council to install large pallet bins in the road to combat some of the mess, but says her pleas have gone unanswered.

Unwanted office furniture piled high in the residential street
Unwanted office furniture piled high in the residential street

Gesturing to piles of waste, she said: "This is what we live amongst. The council tip is cleaner than the road we live in.

"The council needs to respond to what we're requesting. There's no point saying 'we're looking into it'. We're left looking at the rubbish. We hear nothing."

She believes part of the blame lies with the area's student population.

She said: "The students put anything and everything in the bins which is not appropriate so the bins are not emptied. They just stay there."

Mrs Babra added: "It has got progressively worse over the past 15 to 18 years. More and more houses have now been rented out to students so we have no idea who the landlords are, we don't know who comes and who goes.

Discarded building materials are among the dumped waste
Discarded building materials are among the dumped waste

"At the end of every academic year we have to put up with the rubbish that has been left behind by students."

She called on landlords to more closely monitor students to ensure they are maintaining properties.

Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding, who visited residents to hear their concerns, described the scene as "absolutely unacceptable".

"It goes beyond flytipping," he said. "It's really quite awful and you wouldn't expect in a district like Canterbury, there would be residential areas like this where people are having to live with not just flytipping but dangerous conditions, garages that are tumbling down and litter and waste strewn all over the pavements and gardens."

Cllr Fitter-Harding says in the short-term, the council can help clear up the mess.

Stained mattresses have been left in one of the garages
Stained mattresses have been left in one of the garages

But he explained: "We're aware when we clean up it's very likely the problem will come back very quickly.

"We can't keep using taxpayers' money over and over again to clear up the responsibility of private individuals. They should be managing these areas much better than they are.

"It's a dereliction of the duty of those who own the garages to maintain this area. We need to find them, make sure they know what's happening and pay to put right problems that are here."

He says the council has powers to potentially take ownership of land to ensure it is redeveloped for the good of the district. Another option is increased monitoring of the area, potentially using 4G cameras to catch flytippers in the act.

Some of the waste discarded in Kemsing Gardens
Some of the waste discarded in Kemsing Gardens

A city council spokesman said: "We are aware of the issues in Kemsing Gardens. It is a complex situation, with a large number of the garages in private ownership and in a poor condition, some of which appear beyond repair. Information on who many of the owners are is in short supply.

"We accept the area is in need of major attention and our officers are currently assessing what needs doing, how quickly we can make this happen given the fact we do not own them, and how we can prevent a repeat of the same issues occurring in future.

"We are also monitoring the site for flytipping and will take action against those people who dump their rubbish there."

Additional reporting by Jamie Levy

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