Litter, missed collections and bin lids – our garbage gripes

Rubbish Photo John Horton

There are few things that unite the isle in anger more than missed bin collections and litter.

Five years ago recycling was rolled out across the district and while most major problems have since been ironed out there is more work to be done to improve recycling rates and general street cleanliness.


Some streets are still required to wait two weeks to have their refuse collected over the Christmas period. It all depends on what day the holidays fall. This year Cliftonville West were left with mounds of rubbish despite residents group, A Better Cliftonville (ABC) warning they would be deluged with waste. Thanet council confirmed warnings were issued to all households to say their collection would be late, but as predicted residents were forced to call up and request an additional collection on Saturday, December 29.

These changes happen every year and affect different areas depending on which days of the week the Christmas bank holidays fall on.
Residents in the affected areas were issued with bin hangers informing them of the rescheduled collections in advance. Additional communications were also placed in local newspapers and across social media.This covered as many properties in the area as possible and saw the council collect almost 20 tonnes of waste.


By law all councils across the UK must achieve a 50% recycling rate by 2020. According to the latest government figures Thanet council has a way to go.  The percentage of refuse sent for recycling for 2017/18 is 33.84%. This is below the national average and is the worst rate in Kent.

Since recycling collections started in 2013 a number of measures have been implemented to improve things, such as an opt-in scheme for some addresses in Cliftonville West, which was the only area not to automatically receive a recycling service in Thanet.

Last year residents of Gordon Road  complained repeatedly about missed collections and questioned the effectiveness of reporting the problems as they routinely failed to receive a response.

Simon Bell, chairperson of the Gordon Road Area Street Scheme (GRASS) has spent a year trying to improve the service after the following incidents took place:

  • From June, 2018 – seven weeks worth of recycling uncollected
  • Some residents opt-out of scheme as it is not “fit for purpose”
  • December 11 – recycling not collected for two weeks
  • Incidents reported via phone and email using correct system  – not responded to by TDC

Both GRASS and ABC believe recycling should be compulsory for all residents. TDC says there were 27 missed collections in Gordon Road and there were contamination issues. Residents deny this.

Recycling points

There are several recycling points across the isle but they are becoming fewer. The site at Harold Road in Cliftonville was closed due to anti-social behaviour. There are no sites in Broadstairs and Ramsgate

The facility at Trinity Square car park in Margate is also to be removed. The council says it is because “Residents of the square have made repeated complaints…. about nuisance behaviour and dumped waste.”

The authority also claims it was unable to recycle any of the material collected from there, due to the high level of contamination.

In a statement they said “We have extended the opt-in scheme to the residents of Trinity Square.”

It added: “Whilst we appreciate that the service doesn’t currently cover some addresses that would like to recycle we are always reviewing the service that we provide and looking to increase the volume of recycling in Thanet.”

Street litter

According to the November (2018) minutes of the Finance, Budget and Performance Committee targets for street cleanliness were not met for the period July, August and September 2018. The document states: “Targeted resourcing of seafront areas had affected the resourcing of other areas of the service.

“Due to the good weather this summer, the demand for extra resources for the seafront areas was extended into September.”

Bin lids

Residents group A Better Cliftonville (ABC) say they have been lobbying the council for four years to replace bin lids and fix broken stock to prevent seagulls attacking bins and huge amounts of  waste spilling onto the streets and beaches.

A spokesman confirmed: “The council has a duty of care towards residents which is underpinned by the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra).”

Missing bin lids are a massive problem with residents complaining they are not easy to replace, causing litter to blow across the street. TDC says it fixed 7,400 bins last year.

Litter fines

For the period July to September 2018, 1,800 litter fixed penalty notices were issued with 1,300 enforcement actions.

People Power

ABC are encouraging more street schemes to form signs like ‘this is a resident kept street’  to promote pride in the area and encourage litter picking.

Beach cleans

Regular beach/street cleans are carried out by Birchington Anti-litter Group; Broadstairs Town Team; ABC, GRASS

and Walpole Bay Swimmers for Cliftonville; Western Undercliff – Artificial Beach Group in Ramsgate and Westgate Against Rubbish.


  1. Constant complaints and Trinity Square bins removed already. Have regularly reported issues not least disgusting overflowing dog bins in Hartsdown park.

  2. I personally have been in contact with TDC over a dozen times in the last 3 months trying to sort out missed bin collections. Reporting online or over the phone is a complete waste of time as the bins are never re-collected. I have no faith that the system they have in place works.

    This only started happening at the end of last year – what has happened to cause this (apart from the obvious cuts)?

    • I’ve found the same thing in Cliftonville. Numerous missed collections, then they refuse to collect the bins because they’re overflowing and seagulls start ripping the bags open. Have reported several times to TDC. Useless!

  3. I received a fine for dropping a cigarette end yet all around there was vast amounts of empty drink containers and food wrappers, where’s the justice? Also lack of litter bins , although these go unemployed for days

  4. I received a fine for dropping a cigarette end yet all around there was vast amounts of empty drink containers and food wrappers, where’s the justice? Also lack of litter bins , although these go unemptied for days

  5. Cliftonville West is really disgusting with unswept streets thick with cigarette butts and other litter, overgrown shrubs, childrens playgrounds uncleaned, unemptied litter and dog poo bins, bins without lids allowing gangs of screeching guerrilla seagulls scavenging inside these lidless bins pulling it all out and over the streets. No signs of any enforcement at multiple occupation properties with too much rubbish dumped on the pavements outside those properties every day of the week, not just collection days. Recycling not collected for weeks. Complaints by website form, email and phone going without response repeatedly. Looks like TDC have cut back too far with this budget but hey, it is off-season. Will the service begin again for Spring/Summer? I very much hope so.

  6. It’s Ramsgate too. Hereson Road and Boundary Road must be two of the filthiest streets in Thanet. Rubbish strewn all over the pavements regardless of whether it is a collection date or not.

  7. Thanet is in the top 10 of most complained about refuse collection services according to a BBC report last week.
    This is nothing new.Year after year, complaints about various streets in Thanet are aired in the media.The lack of response from the Council at all times is deafening.
    I don’t think the answer is internal reform or an election, as these measures have failed to produce a positive result in the past. Possibly the only way forward is a radical restructuring with managers parachuted in from successful authorities to get a grip on the various failings of this organisation.

  8. As Frankie said above no action follows a conplaint to TDC about missed collections. Twice in the last few months I was told to leave my waste out for recollection – no attempt was made until the next scheduled collection. The lazy refuse collectors often spill waste and recyling but we haven’t seen a road sweeper in almost years! Not that long ago the ‘dustmen’ collected our proper dustbins from our back garden and returned them carefully. Now they throw the plastic boxes down randomly – often damaging them – and leave the waste paper and seagull proof bags to blow in the wind. A shameful deterioration in service and all the time Council Tax bills increase.

    • No raod sweeper in almost two years – I meant to say. KCC used to spray weeds too, but now the gutters and alleys are left to become ‘green’ but not in a good way.

  9. Even when you see a road sweeper they never use a broom maybe the council cannot afford to send them on a course to teach them how to use them! If you do see one they only walk along picking up little bits with there grabbers.

  10. We moved to Ramsgate/Pegwell 23rd Dec and the first thing we noticed was the amount off litter and dog mess everywhere. The streets have not been swept since we’ve been here, with mounds of leaves and litter mounting up. Our paper refuse has never been collected even after reporting it on the website. Recycling is a fallacy as the normal collectors take the paper, when asked. We have to resort to putting recycling in the bulk refuse as the paper bins are overflowing. On the Royal Esplanade there is only one dog poo bin with 100,s of dogs!

  11. I live on Trinity Square and the removal of the recycling bins is a disaster leading to over-flowing bins and now, since the removal of the bottle banks, broken glass! There is also always an assumption that everyone has a car or access to a car to take stuff to the dump. This is not the case.

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