Published: 06:00, 08 July 2019
| Updated: 07:23, 08 July 2019
Shocking images have yet again emerged of seafront bins overspilling with rubbish - prompting councillors to say “enough is enough”.
But on Sunday morning, residents were greeted by the far less cheery sight of garbage piled up beside overflowing bins, with litter strewn across the beaches.
Such scenes of devastation are now commonplace in the aftermath of warm weekends, such as Easter bank holiday at the end of April.
Labour councillor for Gorrell ward, George Caffery, is among those calling for action to be taken to tackle the issue, which he brands a “weekly eyesore”.
“This happens every weekend,” he said. “It has been happening for years.”
On Sunday, he joined residents and Plastic Free Whitstable volunteers in carrying out a beach clean.
“Many people were returning to the beach thanking us for picking up the rubbish, but we were also criticised for not recycling any of it,” he said.
Cllr Caffery says about 80% of the litter collected was recyclable but could not be recycled due to a lack of appropriate bins.
“We need ‘belly bins’ so the rubbish can be sorted where it is generated,” he said. “I am going to lobby the council. Things should change, as we accept environmental issues transcend all other.
“We need to rid ourselves of a disgusting image of Whitstable. Residents are doing their bit - it’s about time the council gives them what they need to do the job properly.”
Cllr Caffery has now contacted chief executive of the city council Colin Carmichael, saying: “We are sick of being bounced from one department to another and being told Serco’s contract is coming to an end in the distant future. Nothing has been done to stop this for years.”
Around the coast in Herne Bay, the situation is very much the same.
Hampton resident Alison Holness, 52, took photos on Sunday morning of rubbish strewn behind beach huts in Spa Esplanade.
“On a really hot weekend or over the summer holidays you often find bins overflowing the next morning,” she said.
“Much of the litter is too big to go into bins, so it’s put on the side and overnight foxes and seagulls go through them. This litter is blown down onto the beach.
“It’s not good for the environment, having all the plastic going into the water or up the bank.”
Like many residents, Ms Holness is calling for the city council to provide larger bins.
“People could open the lid and put their rubbish in, instead of trying to put things through holes that aren’t big enough,” she said.
But Canterbury City Council says recycling bins are simply not an option - while bigger bins have already been trialled.
Spokesman Rob Davies said: “We have tried large bins before but such was the outcry from residents about their visual intrusiveness, we had to remove them.
“Recycling bins do not work because they get filled with general rubbish that contaminates the recyclable materials.”
Mr Davies condemned the “selfish and irresponsible litter louts” who do not take their rubbish home, saying: “There are dozens and dozens of bins along the seafront.
“Each one has a large sticker on it asking people not to leave rubbish by the bin if it’s full.
“While we are always happy to review the number and location of rubbish bins, litter is a societal problem and the answer to tackling the issue lies in a change in behaviour.”
Yet as beachgoers continue to leave litter by bins, many are calling for punitive measures to be introduced.
Tankerton councillor Neil Baker said: “I know some of my colleagues would prefer a zero-tolerance blitz, with fines thrown around. But while that may be an option to nail home the message, it is impossible for enforcement staff to be everywhere all of the time.
“So we have to hope littering - be it chucking the stuff on the floor or leaving rubbish by full bins - becomes socially unacceptable.
“Leaving bags of rubbish next to a full bin is fly-tipping. What we really need is for people to take personal responsibility for their rubbish.
“Why should those local taxpayers who do their bit to keep the area tidy have to pay to clean up after the ‘I don’t give a damn’ brigade?
“Canterbury City Council doesn’t leave litter on the beach, nor does Serco. It is only there because of the litter tossers who are a real scourge locally and across the country as a whole.”
More by this authorLydia Chantler-Hicks