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Litter and laughing gas cannisters found dumped at West Quay, Whitstable

Another clean up is underway after litter and laugh gas cannisters were left strewn along a seafront.

Pictures sent to KentOnline show beer and wine bottles, plastic bags and metal cannisters dumped on Whitstable's West Quay.

Litter on the West Quay, Whitstable. Picture: Alex Hughes
Litter on the West Quay, Whitstable. Picture: Alex Hughes

The images were taken early this morning as teams started to clean up after visitors from the day before, and just hours after a police dispersal order came into force.

A crackdown on anti-social behaviour follows complaints from residents about boy racers and louts binging on laughing gas.

The 48 hour dispersal order, which came into force at 4pm yesterday, means anyone found causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress can be made to leave the area.

They will risk arrest should they return within 24 hours.

A concerned local resident, who didn’t wish to be named, said: "While the recent dispersal order is welcome, a great deal more needs to be done, in a more coordinated way, by Canterbury City Council and Kent Police.

Laughing gas cannisters were strewn across the ground. Picture: Alex Hughes
Laughing gas cannisters were strewn across the ground. Picture: Alex Hughes

"Litter, public hygiene and antisocial behaviour issues mean that Whitstable doesn’t feel like a safe place at the moment.

"The easing of lockdown, on the Kent coast, is causing very serious problems for local residents, and they are not going away."

Albert Street resident Graham Simpson said the sheer amount of rubbish left was simply "extraordinary".

The 65-year-old noted in particular how large volumes of nitrous oxide cannisters had been strewn everywhere.

"I have never seen such a quantity of these cannisters," he said.

"Who is using them I can't say but all I can say is cannisters were just left everywhere."

Litter on the West Quay, Whitstable. Picture: Alex Hughes
Litter on the West Quay, Whitstable. Picture: Alex Hughes

He added it was impossible to keep socially distant from people on the town's narrow streets and that they didn't seem to care.

"Just the volume of people is a problem in itself but in the time of pandemic when we are still trying to socially distance," he said.

The resident, who leads a local discussion group, said he believed poor messaging from the government had contributed to the problem.

"At the height of the pandemic people were very observant," he said.

But now he says people feel they have been "given a green light" and "free licence" to do as they please.

"They (the government) wanted to put out a good news message but did not emphasise enough the dangers still present," he said.

"Local people feel terrorised by it all"

"Local people feel terrorised by it all."

Mr Simpson believes the town needs to adopt measures such as those deployed in Margate to tackle the litter problem.

He said they needed more regular emptying of the bins to stop them overflowing and peak time patrols like those in place across Thanet.

Meanwhile disgruntled locals have launched a petition calling on Canterbury City Council to take action which has amassed more than 700 signatures in under 24 hours.

It calls for clearer signage to be introduced as well as "big belly" bins and evening seafront rubbish collections.

One resident posted to say his children aged just 6 and 8 had asked him to buy them litter pick up sticks as they were disgusted by the scenes.

Another simply read: "Our beautiful little town is dying under the weight of litter. Please act."

Litter on the West Quay, Whitstable. Picture: Alex Hughes
Litter on the West Quay, Whitstable. Picture: Alex Hughes

The litter echoes scene in Herne Bay yesterday after hundreds of people descended on the beach to enjoy the hot temperatures.

Inspector Guy Thompson said: "While we understand people feel the need to enjoy themselves and we do welcome people to the town, they must do it responsibly, and with consideration for others.

"Anti-social behaviour is not tolerated, it can have a detrimental impact on the community and we continue to work with partner agencies to tackle it.

"We encourage residents, as well as parents and guardians, to continue to work with us and report any incidents to us via 101 (or 999 if a crime is taking place).

"Additional patrols of the town will take place this weekend and our message is clear: anyone found to be behaving in a disorderly way or causing problems can expect to have appropriate action taken against them."

Canterbury City Council said it was wrong to suggest they are not concerned about the enormous amount of litter being left behind and were taking a number of steps to address it.

But added responsibility ultimately laid with those "lazy and selfish people" discarding their rubbish.

Bagged up litter by waste collectors and locals Photo: Tim Stubbings
Bagged up litter by waste collectors and locals Photo: Tim Stubbings

A spokesperson said: "We are determined to tackle it with or without a petition.

"It goes without saying the responsibility always lies with the lazy and selfish people who leave their rubbish behind - is it that hard to put it in the bin, if that bin is full find another or take it home?

"Why should our council taxpayers fork out for the constant clean up?"

The authority sought to give reassurances to residents and explained it would have 1,100 litre bins in place next weekend, including at Keams Yard, Hampton and Tankerton.

It added: "It’s worth saying that several years ago we purchased 15 large roll-top bin shelters and roll-top bins for Whitstable to cope with summer demand - fish and chip boxes and bottles don’t work in anything other than a very large bin - and it would have also meant a small bin truck could do a collection.

"Immediately upon installation of the bin shelters in Whitstable, a local campaign was started against them and councillors took the view we should remove them all. We would ask for the public's support once they are installed."

"Why should our council taxpayers fork out for the constant clean up?"

"While this weekend's weather has been rather unpredictable, we have also maximised the number of enforcement officers on duty and worked with our street cleaning and waste contractor Serco to ensure every bit of resource we can muster is thrown at cleaning up along the whole coast.

"Long-planned anti-littering signage has been moved forward and will go up along the whole coast as soon as possible.

"Finally, we have committed publicly to pulling together a multi-agency coastal management plan and that piece of work will be ready very soon."

"The fantastic weather and the fact many people are furloughed so have started their summer holiday before they normally would means these problems have arrived earlier than normal and seem to be worse although it is hard to tell if we are comparing it to life during the most restrictive part of lockdown where everyone was told to stay at home apart from an hour’s exercise."

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable


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