Published: 10:54, 29 July 2021
| Updated: 15:18, 29 July 2021
Yet more measures are being brought in on some of Kent's beaches to protect the popular stretch of coast as hoards of staycationers descend for the holidays.
Extra security, more bins and a daily NHS-led medical presence on Margate Main Sands are just some of the latest actions being taken by Thanet District Council.
It follows a problematic summer last year, with tens of thousands of people cramming onto the Isle's award-winning sands.
Fights broke out, tonnes of rubbish was left behind, people were caught defecating in public and many devastated residents were left picking up litter at the end of each day.
Earlier this year, Thanet council introduced new powers allowing on the spot £100 fines to be issued to troublemakers and people littering.
Council chiefs also implemented a beach management plan three months earlier than usual this year.
Now, with litter once again being left strewn on the sands, the authority is bringing in new initiatives to deal with the summer rush.
These include flags to draw people’s attention to the litter bins, 300 'The bin's over there' banners and 42 recycling bins in place at all the Blue Flag beaches.
There are 10 new litter picking stations which provide people with free recycled plastic bags and 15 additional dog waste bag dispenser stations with free biodegradable bags.
Cigarette butt pouches are available from firstname.lastname@example.org for local food and drink outlets to stock, and 'Respect Protect Enjoy' merchandise reinforcing the message is being worn by all coastal and enforcement teams. These are on sale at the Visitor Information Centre in Margate to help fund other community litter initiatives.
The council is also giving its support for a new art installation at Margate train station led by community litter picking group, Rise.Up.Clean.Up Margate.
Security is also being increased, particularly at the busiest times of the day.
Already this year there have been fights on the beaches, including one on Viking Bay during half term in which a man suffered a head injury in an assault.
A council spokesman said: "We have more resources this year than in any previous years, which includes three dedicated officers enforcing around the coast and eight coastal security wardens supporting them.
"We have dedicated enforcement patrol officers tasked with focusing on several hotspots along our coast, at peak times of the day.
"Security patrols will also support Civil Enforcement Officers at roads surrounding hotspot locations, such as Botany Bay."
Parking is a major issue around Kingsgate, with problems including roads being blocked, visitors parking over driveways and residents being abused.
The council says on a busy summer day in the summer it issues more than 100 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for parking offences in Thanet.
This year there will be an increased presence of civil enforcement officers patrolling on foot, especially in the Kingsgate/Broadstairs area.
There will be static signage to direct visitors to some of the beaches which have more space and available parking when needed. One of these says ‘No Parking at Botany Bay’.
A special Beach Check app will also allow users to check which beaches are less crowded.
In addition to these measures there will be coloured flags for meeting points for lost children and daily medical presence led by NHS/South East Coast Ambulance Service at Margate Main Sands.
The council adds that the Viking Bay lift has been repaired and is now open for the public to use, the new concessions at Westbrook Bay is open until the end of the season and Thanet Coast Project has a series of events throughout the summer to raise awareness and inspire people about protecting marine life and our oceans.
Cllr Reece Pugh, cabinet member for economic development, says building on the experience from last year, it is clear that a joined up approach to manage the large volumes of people heading to Thanet's coast is critical.
"We are working hard with other agencies to ensure the services we provide for residents and visitors along our coastline run smoothly," he said.
"We know that litter left on our beaches will always be the biggest issue for our residents, so it’s great to be able to launch more schemes aimed specifically at encouraging behaviour change amongst people who find it acceptable to leave rubbish on the beach.
"We want people to do the right thing with their waste and put it in the bins provided.”
There are other initiatives already rolled out, including Portaloos at Margate Main Sands and Botany Bay, increased security around our toilets and a new ‘No Excuse for Abuse’ campaign to encourage respect towards council staff.
Some 15 beach cleaners work in two shifts between 6am and 8pm each day.