Thanet council confirms criminal investigation – and answers questions- over mountain of waste at Margate sands

How we want to see our beaches Photo John Horton

Thanet council says a criminal investigation is now taking place over the litter strewn across Margate main sands at the weekend.

The authority, which previously confirmed CCTV was being reviewed with the aim of taking enforcement action, says it is in contact with all parties, including the different coach companies who came to Margate that day.

In a post the social media the council has responded to many comments left by concerned residents on its facebook page.

The massive amount of litter left behind Photo Frank Leppard

The post answers six points:

Can bins be placed on the beach?

Historically bins were placed on the beaches but there has been a shift to collections from the promenade or at street level. This allows us to provide much larger bins as previously people had complained that the beachside ones had a limited capacity and were a magnet for seagulls. Furthermore, the new arrangement has helped reduce litter being left next to the beachside bins which then ended up spread across the sand or in the sea.

Why are people not fined for leaving mess on the beach?

A horrible mess at Margate Main Sands on the Thursday night Photo Frank Leppard

Legally we have to observe someone ‘in the act’ of dropping and then leaving litter on the beach. When this does happen, we issue a £100 penalty. It is particularly hard to enforce when there are large groups.

What action do you take to keep beaches clean?

Clean up staff Photo John Horton
  • We have Bay Inspectors at our main beaches who regularly use their tannoy to remind the public of their responsibilities.
  • Re. the litter from Saturday – this is now a criminal investigation. We are reviewing CCTV footage to identify those responsible and are in contact with all parties, including the different coach companies who came to Margate that day.
  • When we are notified of a large group (50 people or more) coming to the beach, there is a formal events process that has to be followed to ensure there is adequate provision of facilities (including paying for extra bins) and impact on the surrounding areas is considered. However, not all large groups tell us they will be coming.
  • We work with local schools to raise awareness about the importance of looking after our local environment. We have a dedicated recycling booklet that schools and groups can request.
  • We also have a team from the council, alongside the Environment Agency and Southern Water, at the Water Gala today (Wednesday 31 August) educating people about the importance of keeping our beaches clean.

The responses follow an outcry over the rubbish left on the sands on Saturday (Juy 27) following a visit from several coach trip groups, including a 500 person event, at the Nayland Rock end of the sands.

The mess left behind was shocking and images taken by isle photographer Frank Leppard went viral with a facebook reach of more than one million.

The mountains of rubbish, including bottles, disposable plates and cups,discarded wrappings,buckets and even broken tents, comes just two days after council workers had to clear a similar scene of litter. There was also evidence of black bin bags.

Photo Jackie Chapman

During the clean up council workers removed six gazebos from Margate Main Sands, filled one seven-and-a-half tonne vehicle full of litter and the beach cleaners collected about 75 bags of rubbish. All the bins along the promenade filled a seven-and-a-half tonne waste vehicle twice over and a four-and-a-half tonne mechanical sweeper used along the seafront first thing was also filled up. The tractor used to rake the sand collected a further tonne of rubbish.

It followed a similar tide of rubbish left only two days before.