Opinion: Council leader Rick Everitt – The issue of visitors to our beaches and how to safely open public toilets

District council leader Rick Everitt (Margate image John Horton)

Things change quickly in the current crisis. One of the major issues raised with councillors in recent weeks has been whether or not the usual seasonal dog restrictions should apply with the beaches out of action for all but brief daily exercise for the foreseeable future.

Within ten days of the dog restrictions coming into operation, however, the outlook changed completely with the Prime Minister’s announcement last Sunday that people were now free to travel as far as they chose in England and could sunbathe on beaches if they wish.

Whether or not any of us think that dispensation is sensible, it’s the government that has the expert scientific advice and is charged with making these decisions. As a district council, Thanet has to work out how best to manage any issues that arise.

At least one coastal authority in the South East responded earlier this week by asking visitors to stay away. Thanet does not want to take that position, but even if we did, it’s unlikely people across Kent and beyond in search of respite from the lockdown would pay much attention.

In fact, we never want to be in the position of dissuading visitors from discovering the natural beauty and charm of our slice of the coastline.

On the contrary, we want to showcase what our beaches have to offer, especially in an era when foreign travel is likely to remain difficult for some time. As and when the situation eases, we want visitors to see coming to Thanet as an attractive option.

Part of that, however, has to be making sure that we don’t compromise safety for residents, staff and visitors. Our public toilets have been closed since mid-March, and we already had major concerns about social distancing around their use just before the full lockdown.

Our toilet facilities are different from place to place, but they all pose their own challenges. We have been looking hard at how we can meet them, but many questions have remained.

Is the use of hand-dryers safe, because it reduces physical contact with surfaces that might carry the virus, or does it encourage the airborne spread of the disease?

Should we close urinals to avoid male users standing next to each other, or does this increase the risk of surface contact in cubicles and on doors?

What additional cleaning regime is needed and how can we safeguard the staff, potentially including the sourcing of medical grade PPE, which needs to be preserved for the NHS?

Is it physically possible to implement a one-way system, and how do we operate a distanced queue to prevent overcrowding? Does the rule have to be one-in, one-out?

Does a queueing system recognise that some people’s needs may be more urgent than others?

We considered hiring individual portable toilets to address some of these issues, but then the government published its own advice on Wednesday evening cautioning against that.

There are no simple solutions to these questions across the range of our facilities and the easy, but wrong, answer would be to open them all up as usual.

Instead, officers are working on specific solutions for individual facilities, starting with our main beaches, but in order to keep things safe we are not going to be ready immediately.

We know that will be frustrating to some, but as the speed with which the dog restrictions discussion has been overtaken shows, it has been very difficult to plan ahead.

Safety must come first, but residents can be assured that we are working hard to deliver it alongside the services that people need.

We want everyone to enjoy Thanet’s beaches and as soon as we can safely open some of the toilets to assist in that, we will.


  1. Many years ago I suggested to local councillors to invest in stainles steel automatic paying toilets other area’s have been using for years companies that make them would offer some free to get the business this system controls one in one out and they are self cleaning.

    • automatic paying toilets you want to charge me for going to the toilet …I will refrain from what I could say but only would be pun intended but a lady does not need to be rude.
      Council view was to close our toilets down to save money but put that money on upgrading their building …the council oops the many councils have several buildings we happen to pay for even for them to go to the toilet we pay for …one rule for you Rick and one rule for the people who suffer this town of your pathetic behaviour of bullies. You cant even get a seafront built in over a decade and dreamland is offshore leaks with arrowgrass. Yet you have no pot to Pixx in due to the ongoing losses of the crowned owned port ….year in day in and out! Only one that should be going out is you and those evil bullies of officers who have done nothing for this town but ruin it with offshore leaks …oooh there goes another flying pig of lies your lies

  2. Various thanet councils have let toilets become run down instead of dealing with the problems when they arose, this was false economy.
    I hope some of the £5m given to the council is used across the Isle to get the toilets up and running or pity any tourists coming to Thanet

  3. What I cannot understand during this COVID-19 period is . At school we were taught to keep to the left. In the highway code we are taught to drive on the left. Why is it during this pandemic the public are allowed to walk like a drunkard along the foot path. In many stores you can go in whatever direction one wishes. Why not adopt the same principle. Keep to the left. Use the centre of the footpath or isle for overtaking. Is this so difficult.

  4. Be nice if we had any left to open! Last year it was left to cafe and pub owners to provide ‘public’ toilets

    • Crap service from servants that are supposed to uplift this town
      only uplifting they do is the coffers!
      Thomas A Crapper made toilets by the way

      bit like the stink this council since onset have caused the people of this town
      still could not organise a social distancing regime if they wanted it means brains and well you those are sold in Iceland as faggots!

      • TDC want to encourage people to come and enjoy our beaches and yet we have no toilets whilst the council thought a £3 million pound improvement to their offices acceptable. This council never seem to understand that if you want to be a tourist hot spot you have to provide essentials and that means TOILETS. Don’t expect local businesses to provide such amenities. Now they can CONVENIENTLY blame Covid-19 for not supplying toilets! Bravo! But what happens after? That’s what I am really interested in knowing! Our council management are so incompetent all round!

  5. My advice would be to speak to our neighbouring Councils who have opened some toilets already. They have obviously used the last 7 weeks more wisely and already worked out how they can safely reopen them.

    Shouldn’t be too difficult to work out.

  6. If I am out and I get caught short. Will I be arrested? Do I need to carry my own “doggy bag” it will be just like being back in the Army!
    Or I could just leave it in the street and then someone else can sort out the next epidemic of Cholera and Typhoid.

  7. Safety comes first

    please remind me how safe is the money
    ruined the port
    ruined the sea front at Ramsgate
    ruined dreamland
    all of those offshore leaks and secrets although some are not so as I find out that even estate agents are not safe nor ex employees of the council

    safety comes first with EKH does it …think again you put peoples lives at risk and want to brush it under the dreamland rowing team canoe

  8. Keep dogs on a ‘short’ lead on the beach. Do not allow them to run free resulting in owners having to defy social distancing rules to fetch them back, Too many irresponsible owners these days. Too many dogs using beach as a toilet.

    • People are still taking their dogs on Ramsgate’s main beach. The information notices nearby are useless- too small and too few. Why can’t there be painted notices, saying “NO DOGS” and then the relevant dates, on the ramps- and bigger notices along the esplanade? A beach inspector would be helpful. Do Margate and Broadstairs still have one?

  9. Rebecca hooper your comments are still offensive do you realize to much of your bile can end you up in court. It’s ok to make a point that you can do. Be aware this has happened to other people can you not afford 10p to use a toilet.

  10. How can TDC open the public loos and keep the beach huts closed? The ones the local residents pay good money to rent. That they can’t access. Even at a distance.

  11. I think the council leader should not be weak like the prime minister and heed caution that Brighton has turning away tourists as it is much too soon to be thinking of doing nothing and letting a free for all attitude ride through Thanet again causing the rates to increase as quickly as the leader can get his pipe and slippers out, which it will if you do nothing like has been happening throughout lockdown in Cliftonville.
    Because the leaders are weak we have had the second highest rate of infection in the world here in the UK so far and Cliftonville West the highest area rate in the UK except London. So, remember who to blame when it is all over.

  12. Kent resident what part of Kent do you live have the courage to say who you are.i do not know where you get your information from you sound like a leftie just to remind you Thanet council is labour led. If you are so concerned why run your party down.

  13. Public toilets are a basic human right if you look at it. Making visitors unwelcome is a big own goal and will harm the many small independent businesses around Thanet. Let’s not get carried away with fear. It’s perfectly possible to operate safely. The biggest things we can do to keep healthy is having a clean environment, a healthy unprocessed food diet, exercise, a positive mind set, staying away from main stream media spin – and we already have the benefit of our wonderful coastline and natural food growers such as the Windmill Community Gardens.

  14. Democrat or whoever you are haven’t you read that Thanet is closed to visitors it’s no good people coming her while businesses are in lockdown.we have to stop the coronaviris around Thanet as far as toilets most large supermarkets have toilets you can use. Morrisons in Margate their toilet is ion male female and disabled toilet.

    • Brian I live in Thanet, shops were open in Westbrook yesterday and I am all for welcoming visitors to enjoy our great outdoors in the safety of the open air. I never hardly ever go to supermarkets. I buy local. We need to stop the fear propaganda. Fear controls and lowers the immune system.

  15. Put the tourist argument to one side for a moment. What about us residents who are out walking dogs, cycling, taking daily exercise? We pay our Council Tax and surely these facilities (or at least some of them) should be open for us.

  16. Thanet Blind what part of Thanet do you live there are still other beaches you can use you can travel locally. Most beaches belong to crown estate nothing to do with council tax going to any beach is not a service.

  17. Thanet Blind as I said in a previous comment people can go to most large supermarkets who.have toilets to use. The toilet issue is probably for health and safety reasons to stop the spread of the coronaviris. People have to be patient.

  18. Good point Brian. Next time I am walking down Ramsgate seafront and need to spend a penny I will walk to Tesco Extra at Westwood, queue for 20 minutes to get in, spend a penny, then walk back to Ramsgate seafront and continue my daily exercise. Other neighbouring Councils seem to have reopened key public toilets safely and quickly. My point is why do TDC find it such an intellectual struggle when others find it so simple?

  19. Thanet Blind some council’s may have some open a lot have come in to the modern times by installing stainless steel self cleaning toilets that can accommodate one person at a time always open some charge 10p or 20p nobody complains about a small charge you cannot spend to much time in there as once washed your hands and flush the door automatically like the toilets have on trains with similar type doors.

  20. Donna Garfield haven’t you been noticing Thanet is in lockdown as far as the toilets are concerned at this time for health and safety matters to stop the spread of the viris was to close. Normally all toilets would be open every day at this moment Thanet doesn’t want visitors when this is all over Thanet will welcome visitors back the same as other seaside towns in the country.

  21. Another committee mentality decision – lunacy.

    Leaving them closed means beach visitors will urinate and defecate on the beaches, even more than usual. Botany Bay dunes were strewn with human excrement last year, even with the public loos open as well as those in the pub. Children will literally play in human shit.

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