Thanet District Council is joining forces with key agencies as part of its beach management plan. This will see the coordination of resources, intelligence and support right across the region to together tackle the huge volume of visitors to its coast.
Partner organisations including representatives from the NHS, Kent Police, British Transport Police, Kent County Council, RNLI, and Southeastern were amongst those who joined the council this week (Wednesday 1 July) to discuss how the authority and other agencies can work effectively together to address some of the current challenges.
Like many coastal resorts, Thanet has seen a sharp rise in the number of people heading to its beaches and open spaces following the Government’s easing of restrictions and the recent high temperatures. Thanet welcomes visitors to the area as they are an important part of our local economy and although the majority of people behaved responsibly, the numbers gathering meant that in many places social distancing could not be observed. There were also incidents of irresponsible and dangerous parking, congested road networks, large volumes of litter and other examples of anti-social behaviour.
The council launched a new beach management plan in June, which saw the implementation of additional cleansing resources – in line with full summer season provision – more bins, the reopening of all coastal toilets, enforcement activity, the return of RNLI provision on some beaches, security in some locations and signage right across the coast. Despite this extra resource the area was still overwhelmed by the numbers, stretching public services to their limit.
Leader of Thanet Council, Cllr Rick Everitt said: “I am grateful to all the agencies who took part in the meeting and hope this offers a level of reassurance to the public that we are all working together to manage the situation.
“The district council simply does not have the powers or resources to address the issues on its own and can only do so with the support of its partners. We are well aware of the frustrations of some residents and potential risks attached to extreme numbers of people coming to Thanet in the current circumstances. At the same time, tourism is vital to our economy and the re-opening of food and drink outlets will help support local jobs.
“We have approached the Government, via our local MPs, to ask for more resources to address the specific challenges we face as a tourist destination and we will continue to focus on the issues that impact on residents.”
The beach management plan will be updated to reflect further activity arising from discussions with partner organisations. Ongoing analysis of the situation will inform updates to the beach management plan and see adaptations in how we, our partners and the emergency services respond to issues throughout the summer.