Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Before I went off flying to Cambridge this morning, I took a black bin bag and cleared-up the remains of several McDonalds 'Happy Meals' and some vodka bottles from the grass beside the tennis courts at Westgate. I did it because it was an awful, unsightly mess and rather than try and request a street cleaner from more important work elsewhere, it only took a couple of minutes to remove the eyesore.

There's one 'local hero' I know, who deserves a medal. Occasionally I bump into Mike Coleman when I'm taking the dog for a walk and he's picking-up litter from all places along the seafront that the sweepers don't easily get to. Why, because he loves his town, feels a sense of social responsibility and hates seeing the mess that some people leave behind them.

Elsewhere, I noticed on Westgate Bay Avenue, several houses of multiple occupation with black bin bags outside being ravaged by the Seagulls. The rubbish collection isn't until tomorrow morning and so why, I wonder, are the bags outside today when the consequences are inevitable with so many hungry Seagulls trying to feed the their fledgling young?

Tomorrow morning as happens every week, one flat in Beach Rise will leave its black plastic sacks perfectly positioned for passing scavengers outside its gate and by the time I walk my dog, a week's worth worth of nappies, fast food containers and worse, will be spread along the road towards the St Mildred's Bay car park.

Why not, I wonder don't they try and position the bags in such a way that the Gulls don't tear them apart? I do with my own and on those rare occasions when the birds do have a go, you'll find me or my wife sweeping-up the mess from the street.

It occurs to me that while Seagulls represent a large part of our local litter problem, a very small proportion of households represent the same. In my own ward I can picture some of the worst offenders and can predict where, tomorrow morning, you'll find the rubbish blowing around the streets as the Seagulls, with beaks like can-openers do their favourite work.

These houses or flats won't bother to clear-up the mess outside their gates. They'll wait for the appearance of a passing street cleaner, perhaps on Thursday, to do the job for them and once again, a large proportion of his shift will be taken-up with cleaning up after the handful of households that couldn't be bothered.

And so why we all share the same concerns over litter on our streets perhaps there's a version of the familiar 80:20 rule taking place here in Thanet; that 80% of the rubbish we see floating about our streets may actually be down to 20% of the households or less? I've no empirical evidence to support this hypothesis but wonder if readers may have noticed the same where they live?


Anonymous said...

I have loads of rubbish outside of my house, and was always under the impression that rubbish removal was the responsibility of the local Council.

I would suggest you contact your local Councillor.

Peter Checksfield said...

We need more of those large communal bins. I guess that at least 80% of the people in the small Westbrook road where I live use the communal bin at the end of our road, with only the infirm or lazy putting rubbish outside their houses.

Old Woman of Margate said...

Although I may agree that putting rubbish out to be scavenged by the seagulls is a problem you have to consider this, as a council you have allowed many HMOs (historically) and many small flats or flats of any type. But, where do those dwellers keep thier rubbish until the appropriate day. There is no place within the flat for it as so many now have combined kitichen and lining rooms and would you want a large bag or two of smelly rubbish sitting there. So again please do think before you post, and take a good look and what you all have created.

DrM. said...

"Usual suspects" at strange times.

The council provides a regular waste service but as I understand it, only has a responsibility to place the bag in the back of the truck. If you leave your waste in the street outside these collection times then it can be argued that it's your responsibility for the mess it may create.

Where the householders leave their rubbish in their own property until the collection is made, is not, I suspect a council matter.

As an example, the house in Westgate Bay Ave left its rubbish out on the street yesterday morning and when I put my own bags out for collection at 07:00, the contents of the bags of that same house or flat were spread all over the pavement again..!

There it will remain until possibly tommorrow when the street cleaner makes his rounds of this area.

It's partly about exercising a little common sense, ingenuity and civic pride.

Peter Checksfield said...

In reply to your last point Simon, again we need more of those large communal bins. The one at the end of my road is emptied by TDC most days (we used to have two of them which worked even better, but Mick T. told me that some people complained about them). Apparantly these bins are used much more in many European countries, & I think are a real solution in many areas.

Another point: it seems that almost every large supermarket chain is (quite rightly) discouraging us from useing plastic bags, yet we're being actively encouraged to use them for our rubbish! Wouldn't you agree that for those who don't have modern plastic bins then they should at least be allowed to use old-fashioned dustbins instead of plastic bags?

Anonymous said...

Surely this underlines the need to get more wheelie bins out to these parts of Thanet toute de suite! Unless of course, you've signed up to the awful Daily Mail campaign to get them off our streets.

Canterbury City and Dover District Councils introduced wheelies 15 years ago to most of their areas - why did it take Thanet so long to catch up, and then buy in smaller ones. I'm convinced they're not as capacious as Canterbury's.

Anonymous said...

Councillor, you have street sweeper who comes every week? Perhaps he could come fortnightly and spend the other Thursday in other parts of Thanet where the sight of a roadsweeper is on a par with a lunar eclipse?

ascu75 aka Don said...

Yep good idea to clear it up I would rather people didnt make a mess in the first place

Anonymous said...

anon again!

Wheelie bins rule.... I wasn't keen at first, but since they have been down our road... no more seagull split bags or chewed by Foxes rubbish spread down the pathway's. The other options are to 'cull' the gulls, only half of them (preferably the TOP half), or
leave the black bags in their bins, tight lidded, until they are emptied by the collectors.

Anonymous said...

We've had wheelie bins since the first round of wheeling them out and have noticed the gull population has declined. Hurray!! Perhaps they've gone elsewhere or starved.

We never used black bags, always preferred a dustbin that we bought ourselves and had emptied by the binmen. The only problem with the wheelies is that neighbours who can't possibly be recycling always have extra black bags piled on top of their wheelie bins and the gulls just rip them open. I thought the binmen weren't supposed to take extra bags but the ones here do.

What is even more annoying is a neighbour who feeds gulls in their garden. How crazy is that?

Peter Checksfield said...

I often throw out bits of stale bread etc for the birds (including gulls) myself, & don't see what's wrong with that. Far better than filling our bins / black bags with unwanted food.

Mr_C said...

Is someone could invent an anti-seagull bin bag that would be a joy.
Either that or give people more or bigger wheelie bins to take the rubbish.
I live in flats but the bins are full up to overflowing by the end of the collection cycle.
People have little option but to put the bags out, what are we supposed to do, keep them in our flats???

ascu75 aka Don said...

we use better quality black bags and double bag and never put bags outside the house untill the night before collection untill then we keep them in dustbins I cant remember the last time we had any mess but if people will put bags out three days before the collection is due that will cause problems.The problem is everyone thinks as soon as its in the bag its the councils problem maybe a big stick is needed

Peter Checksfield said...

Of course, another option is to use less rubbish...

Buy fresh fruit & veg instead of in tins or frozen (& throw the remains onto a compost heap); make sure your cereal, washing products etc are in soft collapsable containers; send emails instead of writing letters...there's LOTS we can do to reduce the amount of rubbish we throw away!

ascu75 aka Don said...

Anon 10.05 I would surggest it is not the council alones responsability but us all we now think out of sight out of mind HOW ABOUT OUR SHARED RESPOSIBILITY as human beings do we not each have a duty

Anonymous said...

A fundamental challenge is that people don't realise where their own responsibility for domestic rubbish starts and finishes.

The council's obligation is to place the bag in the back of a refuse truck at a pre-arranged collection time.

Where the bag sits until then, protecting it from seagulls or even clearing-up any subsequent mess from a split bag is the resident's responsibility.

Mr Friday said...

I have just returned from holidays abroad in warmer climes and the thing that struck me was that no-one had individual bins or sacks outside their houses. All streets had large communal bins and residents were expected to place their rubbish in those. No more mess on the streets, quicker and easier collections meaning less staff needed on refuse collection resulting in lower council taxes too. Win Win ?

It would also resolve the problem I have where myself, wife and two children are expected to use the same size wheelie bin as my neighbour who lives on his own (and we pay more Council Tax for that priviledge as he gets 25% off).