Following the Governments’ easing of restrictions, like many coastal resorts, Thanet experienced a large and sudden influx of visitors to its beaches and open spaces.
At any other time, the prospect of thousands travelling to our beaches would be something to celebrate – particularly so for the many businesses and traders who make their living from visitors. In the circumstances however this created major logistical problems. Many businesses were not open, the normal preparations for the season had not been put in place and additional measures were needed to manage hygiene and social distancing in our public toilets.
The council responded by installing signage across the coastline, reminding people to maintain a safe distance, to use the bins provided and that if they were choosing to visit the beaches normal facilities would not be in place. This information was posted to council social media sites where it could be easily shared.
There was also a phased reopening of the public toilets, additional bins provided and cleansing team rotas were extended to provide service levels normally seen in the peak of the summer season.
The vast majority of people using our beaches were respectful of the public health guidance and of each other. Sadly though, some were not. Some behaviour has been completely unacceptable.
Beach Management Plan
Following feedback from local people, the council has developed a Beach Management Plan to help members of the public enjoy the area safely. The plan is a collaborative effort between the council and its various partners including the RNLI, Bay Inspectors, Concessions and Kent Police.
Actions have been developed in response to specific issues identified by local people.
We want to offer reassurance to our local residents and responsible beach users that we will be taking a robust approach. We will be doing all we can to ensure people observe social distancing, are aware that not all facilities are open, keep our beaches clean and respect our beautiful isle.
A summary of this plan is provided below.
|You said the problem was:||The action we have taken/will take:|
|Anti-Social Behaviour on our beaches and promenades||We will increase our enforcement presence across our beaches and promenades, through the Bay Inspectors and our Enforcement Officers.|
As well as utilising additional security staff where appropriate in the coming weeks and months.
We will also work with the Police and the RNLI to continually monitor the situation on the beaches and react when problems occur.
|Lack of public knowledge of Existing Byelaws||Byelaws exist relating to the beaches and promenades such as dog control, craft control, hawking, loud music, horse riding, bonfires/barbecues, drinking, cycling, cars and general nuisances. We will do more to communicate these to the public.|
The Bay Inspectors will also advise the public of these byelaws as and when needed.
Additional signage will be placed at strategic locations explaining what byelaws are in place and enforcement action will be taken against anybody persistently breaching them.
The existing byelaws can be found below.
|Irresponsible parking during the warmer temperatures||We have programmed our parking enforcement activity around known hot spots in the warmer weather.|
Whilst the Council does not have enforcement powers to deal with obstructions of private drives and parking on kerbs, we are working with Kent Police on these offences and looking to obtain further devolved powers to enable us to enforce against this activity.
We will use static and electronic signage to direct visitors to the beaches where sufficient parking is available.
|Availability of Beach Public Toilets||From the 30 May, eleven of our main beach public toilets were opened between 10am and 5pm.|
We will increase the toilet cleansing operation from the 15 June to enable us to extend the opening hours to a daily schedule between 8.30am and 9.30am. Toilets will be closed between 5.30pm and 8.00pm starting with those with the lowest footfall. Toilets at main bays will be open until at least 1900. Further details will be available on the council’s website.
|Seafront Lift Closures||Our seafront lifts At Viking Bay and Ramsgate Main Sands remain closed as a result of the national measures currently in place to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the distancing requirements cannot be achieved.|
|Ensuring all businesses using our beaches and foreshores have sufficient licences and insurances in place||We will set out the standards and licenses required for businesses utilising our beaches and foreshores. Any business using our beaches and foreshores will require a licence. Those without a licence will not be permitted to operate and appropriate enforcement action will be taken.|
|Illegal launching of boats||We will work in partnership with the Water User Group, Bay Inspectors and council teams to monitor our seafront barriers and ensure they remain locked to non-registered users.|
|Installation of Beach Huts||We have commenced a programme of work that includes sand levelling, turning on water supplies and showers and suitable toilet provision to enable Your Leisure to install the Beach Huts between the end of June and early July.|
|A large amount of litter left on the beaches and foreshores and misuse of bin provision provided||Due to high footfall on beaches at this point of the season, the council’s additional summer season resource was implemented in mid-May (8 weeks earlier than previous years).|
Concessions at a number of our bays have volunteered to pick litter and we have supplied them with the equipment.
To reduce the time between reporting of local litter issues and the clean up we have set-up a system that enables the concessions to alert the council cleansing team to emerging waste issues and full bins. This also includes our Cleansing Supervisor engaging with concessions and Bay Inspectors to help to target beach cleaning resource to where it is most needed.
The Bay Inspectors are also supporting the cleansing service by issuing rubbish bags to the public, warning people who litter, monitoring litter bins and liaising with beach cleaners on litter hotspots.
The start dates for the RNLI being on the beaches are:
St Mildred’s, West Bay and Westbrook, which would normally be lifeguarded, are not covered this year.