Published: 11:26, 25 June 2019
| Updated: 12:17, 25 June 2019
Spectators of the sky are being told to 'take their rubbish home with them' ahead of air displays in Folkestone this weekend.
The message from Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) comes after shocking images emerged of rubbish at the town's Coastal Park, strewn all over the ground next to a recently installed hi-tech Big Belly Bin, instead of inside it.
Photos of the foul scene were snapped on Monday morning, following a regular summer weekend on the seafront.
But with more than 40,000 expected to descend on the seafront this weekend in celebration of Armed Forces Day, which includes a display by the Red Arrows, the authority's cabinet member for the environment Cllr Stuart Peall, has said people need to take responsibility for their own waste.
“It is hugely disappointing to see the mess left in the Coastal Park after what was a lovely sunny weekend across the district", he said.
“We as a council can, and do, a lot of work to encourage people to keep our district clean - from providing the larger, solar-powered bins that can take up to eight times more waste, to running campaigns to educate people such as our popular Pick Me Up Before You Go Go campaign last summer.
“We employ extra seasonal staff to litter pick busy areas, empty bins and to make sure everything is in order.
“But ultimately, residents and visitors have a choice about whether they put their rubbish in a bin, or leave it on the ground. And sadly, it appears that this weekend a significant number of people decided to leave it behind for others to clear up."
He added: "If there are late-night revellers using the area then it won’t be cleaned until the following morning, but our staff worked very hard to clear it all on Monday morning.”
The pictures sparked criticism on social media of the council's waste services, after the authority spent £83,000 last year on the 12 solar-powered receptacles, in response to rising visitor numbers.
They are designed to electronically inform refuse collectors when they are full so they can be emptied.
But the council say staff work until 8.30pm and the last litter-picking and bin emptying round begins at 7.30pm, meaning any rubbish left behind after this time will be there until morning.
In the first six months of their installation, 51,785 litres of rubbish was collected, which Cllr Peall said had 'exceeded expectations'. But the original idea was met a mixed reaction last year, with concerns over the cost.
One of the bins underneath the Leas Cliff Hall in the coastal park was also destroyed by fire in a suspected arson attack in October. FHDC claimed for a new bin on its insurance at a cost of around £500 and it was put back in just before Christmas.
Talking about this Sunday's event, a FHDC spokeswoman added the town council have to include waste management as part of the event application, and have committed to having litter pickers there as well as additional bins, including recycling bins.
She said: "The main message is that if people carry food and drink to the event, they can carry the rubbish home to throw it away if the bins are full."
The council aren't the only organisation issuing advice ahead of the highly anticipated weekend.
The group Folkestone Rescue, which works alongside Dover Coastguard, the RNLI and NCI Folkestone, are reminding people to also stay safe in the sun.
Russell Reilly, lifeguard manager, said: "The weather next weekend is predicted to be hot and Folkestone busy, so our suggestion to everyone on the day would be drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and make sure you have plenty of sunscreen on to protect from UV rays."
Their warning comes after last year's event was 'exceptionally busy' for the responders, which among general sea protection saw volunteers also deal with almost 30 cases of children being stung by jellyfish in one day on the beach.
It's thought the creatures were enticed inland by the warmer shallow waters last year, but the group say things have been quieter this year. Mr Reilly added: "In terms of jellyfish, its been relatively quiet down the beach so there isn't a lot to report at this time."
While in most cases local species only carry a mild sting, they can be dangerous in larger groups. There were reports last year of lion’s mane jellyfish in Hythe - a specie considered to have the most powerful sting in Britain.
More by this authorMolly Mileham-Chappell