26 June, 2020

Statement on beaches

“When the temperatures are this hot people always flock to the beaches and we’re lucky to have such beautiful bathing spots. However, some people seem to have forgotten that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Our beaches were incredibly busy yesterday, people would have struggled to maintain any form of social distancing.

“We recently introduced a Beach Management plan, a collaborative effort between the council and various partners including the RNLI, Bay Inspectors, Concessions and Kent Police. It seeks to address some of the issues caused by litter and other antisocial behaviour. The actions and effectiveness of the plan will be kept under constant review, and regular meetings held with our partners. This approach means we can maximise our collective resources but the reality is that they’re already stretched. These are unprecedented demands on a Council that already had financial challenges before COVID-19. We want to do our best for our residents and visitors in keeping our beautiful beaches available to the public and maintaining their safety but we absolutely need additional support and resources to do so and will be making a formal ask to the Government for this.

“There were approximately 40,000 people on Margate Main Sands on Thursday, four times the capacity at which a 2m social distance could be observed. Similarly at Viking Bay where 5,000 people could comfortably maintain their distance over 22,000 people were present. The council cannot determine which of those present are from different households, which is a consideration in terms of the numbers, but it is obvious that people are not using common sense and continue to flock to spaces that are clearly too crowded. This problem is not limited to Thanet and can only be addressed by messaging and regulation at national level. However, we will continue to communicate local messages.

“In order to keep people safe, in May, we started providing the level of beach and street cleansing services we’d usually only have in high summer. Despite there being hundreds of bins, sadly people choose to abandon their litter on the beach. This is a problem created by the irresponsible and inconsiderate behaviour of some but it has a negative effect for us all.

“Our beach cleaning teams have been out again today from 6am. They cover all the main beaches and will return again in the evening. Every day they clear bags and bags of litter – approximately 15 tonnes on average and more than that in the past few days. They do an amazing job. We have additional litter picking support from concessionaires at some beaches. Where Bay Inspectors are on duty, they’re 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. There are also volunteer groups who have stepped up and helped with litter picking – they are much appreciated.

“Rubbish is abandoned with the expectation that it’s someone else’s job to pick it up. It’s not. This area has a unique natural coastline and is part of a designated marine conservation zone – any litter not placed in bins is likely to end up in the sea. Everyone needs to pick up after themselves. Anything people can carry to the beach they ought to be able to carry home again. It is utterly appalling that anyone should do otherwise.

“We want people to be able to enjoy our stunning coastal areas, but to do so with respect for the wildlife and natural environment, other visitors and the people that live here.”


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