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Whitstable residents fear seagull problems as council swaps black bins for purple sacks

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Residents are "outraged" over a council's decision to replace black bins with purple bin bags and open crates.

Those living in Victoria Street in Whitstable fear the move "will cause huge pest problems" by attracting seagulls and vermin.

The city council says it is implementing the change following a complaint about the smell of bins in the area.

A letter sent to residents says that from December 6, bins must be left in Victoria Street for collection instead of St Peter's Road where they are currently left.

It adds: "As there is not the space on the pavement for bins, your waste containers will be changed from bins to purple sacks and recycling boxes."

But many feel the move will cause seagulls, mice and rats to plague the area.

A video taken in Victoria Street yesterday shows seagulls swarming around a purple sack - which are already used by some residents - and strewing its contents across the road.

Seagulls tearing into a purple bin bag in Victoria Street. Picture: Derek Drennan
Seagulls tearing into a purple bin bag in Victoria Street. Picture: Derek Drennan

Derek Drennan, 41, fears the switch to purple bin bags "will add to the seagull issue, attract more vermin, creating a mess".

"The local residents of Victoria Street are in uproar," he said.

"We are shocked that the council thinks this was a good idea.

"Our street are desperately unhappy as this will cause huge pest and waste problems for us, which is already evident across Whitstable where this has been implemented."

Mr Drennan has now launched a petition calling for the council to rethink its decision, which has already amassed more than 70 signatures.

Among other residents concerned about the plans is Anita Rule.

Victoria Street resident Anita Rule. Picture: KMTV
Victoria Street resident Anita Rule. Picture: KMTV

"The whole street's going to look a mess every week, and in the summer it's going to get worse," she said.

"You can't plan when the bins are going to be collected, so basically the seagulls will come along and rip the bins open and you have to clear it up.

"If the bag's ripped open, [waste collectors] won't take it. So what are we supposed to do then?"

Meanwhile, she fears recycling boxes left on the pavement will cause issues for people with pushchairs or in wheelchairs, while passers-by could drop litter non-recyclable materials in them and contaminate the collection.

Labour city councillor Chris Cornell has branded the switch to purple sacks "a heavy handed response by the council".

Canterbury city councillor Chris Cornell (Lab). Picture: KMTV
Canterbury city councillor Chris Cornell (Lab). Picture: KMTV

"Picking up bins here in the conservation area is always a problem," he said. "The roads are small, it's difficult to get lorries around, and there are problems about bins blocking streets.

"But the council should have come out, spoken to residents, spoken to local councillors about what the issue is and we could have suggested alternatives, rather than just annoying people by sending them a letter.

"What we really need is a kind of longer-term systemic look at the problem. We need to find a way in which either we can better secrete them off road, or whether we look at bin stores."

Cllr Cornell says he believes introducing hessian "seagull-proof" sacks could help the issue.

"The solution they're suggesting which is putting everyone to purple bags doesn't really solve the problem, it just creates more of it," he said.

Canterbury City Council has been approached for a comment.

Visit the petition page here.

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