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Mountains of rubbish and fly-tipping prompt urgent call for action by Cliftonville residents

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Residents in Thanet are demanding action after waking up from Christmas celebrations to mountains of rubbish left on their streets.

Shocking footage taken on Boxing Day by Friends of Cliftonville Coastline shows the streets around Athelstan and Ethelbert Road in Cliftonville piled up with black bags, litter and even unwanted furniture.

Rubbish left on the streets after Christmas Day

Although street teams came to clean up the rubbish in the following two days, residents living in the area say they have had to deal with mess littering the streets for years.

Anne Marie McAuley, of Ethelbert Crescent, said fly-tippers are partly to blame for the problem.

She said: "It's just gross, and it's all year round but it was particularly bad at Christmas.

"We're all just repulsed by it, it's disgusting - it's humans at their worst, in fact animals are cleaner."

More waste was left on the streets after the clean up team had left

Anne regularly sees people driving up to the curb during her evening dog walks and dumping their rubbish in or next to the communal paladin bins meant for residential use only.

Last week she spotted a group of people emptying industrial bags of building material into the bins, leaving local residents with nowhere to put their own rubbish.

Anne also said Thanet District Council need to find a more robust way of solving the ongoing waste issue.

She said: "This system doesn't work, and they know it doesn't work. It's a very cheap way of dealing with household waste.

A passerby spots fly-tipped furniture
A passerby spots fly-tipped furniture

"I'm paying the same council tax I paid when I lived in London, and there was never a problem with the way waste was managed."

This is not the first time people have called on the council to change the area's waste policy.

In July KentOnline spoke to Luke Mclean of the Athelstan Road Tenants and Residents' Association (ARTRA), who said bin bags left on the pavements were being ripped open by seagulls and could be a health hazard.

Friends of Cliftonville Coastline, a community group based in the area, also tried to improve the problem by launching their #cleanupcliftonville campaign in February 2019.

Others have also called for the council to return to individual households bins as opposed to large paladin bins.

Cllr Alan Currie
Cllr Alan Currie

Plans had initially been put in place for an additional 10 street cleaning operatives to be employed as part of the 2020-21 budget, which looked to improve the known waste problem in the area.

But according to Cllr Alan Currie of the Cliftonville West ward, the plans have been postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "We are still very hopeful these new staff will be employed.

"The amount of rubbish dumped on the streets over the Christmas period was staggering, even though it was all collected by hard pressed operatives over the following two days."

Cllr Currie also recognised the problem with fly-tipping across the Isle, and is calling for free item collections to stop people dumping unwanted furniture on street corners.

Residents say there is nowhere for household waste to be stored for those living on Northdown Road
Residents say there is nowhere for household waste to be stored for those living on Northdown Road

He said: "Fly-tipping in all parts of Thanet has been a growing problem and councillors and officers have worked incredibly hard to deal with this.

"At present residents can have up to five large items collected by the Council for £25 but at this difficult time for everyone I believe there should be free collections offered.

"If every household was allowed two or three free collections a year this would really cut down on fly-tipping which the council has to deal with regardless."

Clare Stephens lives on Dalby Road, and said clear signage explaining who has a right to use the paladin bins might go some way to improving the problem.

She said: "When I have challenged Mr and Mrs 'Palm Bay' unloading their old Xmas tree into our bin they claim they have no idea, and see it as an alternative to the council dump.

'If every household was allowed two or three free collections a year this would really cut down on fly tipping...'

"Flats on Northdown Road have no waste provision at all and many shops top up their inadequate commercial collections and fill them regularly."

Michelle Thicke lives on Northdown Road with her five children, and used to put her rubbish in a large paladin bin close to the nearby car wash.

Since the council removed the bin, she has had to store her bags of rubbish inside until collection day.

She said: "I get up early to try to catch the bin collection as we have no household black bin or even seagull proof bags.

"I will never just leave my rubbish out or even fly-tip, so my rubbish has to sit in my house for a week at a time.

Thanet District Council offices
Thanet District Council offices

"I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know the council have to do something."

A spokesperson from Thanet District Council said: "In recent months, we’ve worked hard to ensure that many residents in Cliftonville West have new household bins or seagull proof bags and to address issues around the misuse of some of the large bins in the area.

"Over the Christmas period, household waste has been collected as scheduled in Cliftonville West. We know that waste volumes at Christmas are always higher than usual and anticipate having to collect more on our rounds however, this year we have seen an increase in seasonal waste left on the streets in some areas.

"This then requires additional cleansing resources to be deployed and has a knock on impact for cleansing services in other areas of the district.

"This Christmas we have collected an additional 27 tonnes of waste from Cliftonville West when compared with the same period last year. Across Thanet, the Street Cleansing team has collected an additional 19 tonnes over the same period vs last year.

"It is important that residents act responsibly when storing and presenting waste for collection. The properties in Cliftonville West either receive weekly household waste collections or have access to communal bins which are emptied twice per day.

"Unfortunately, despite clear signage, communication with residents and enforcement action, the communal bins continue to be misused or filled by people who are not entitled to use them.

"This reduces waste capacity for residents and is a greater problem at Christmas due to the increased volume of waste."

The spokeperson added: "We are proud of both the Refuse and Street Cleansing teams who have worked hard right through the Christmas period to collect the higher quantities of household and street waste.

"We would like to thank the vast majority of residents for presenting their waste responsibly and we will continue to work hard to clear remaining seasonal waste over the coming days."

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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