Bank Holiday sunshine attracts crowds to Thanet beaches – complaints of beach fight and ‘faecal matter’ in public follow

The loo queue in Margate

The hot Bank Holiday weather has attracted crowds to Thanet with Margate Main Sands packed and police being called to parking mayhem in Broadstairs.

Residents in Percy Avenue say they had to patrol the road as visitors blocked driveways and vehicles as they tried to find parking spaces so they could visit Botany Bay. Residents in Kingsgate Avenue have made similar complaints today with one saying the last rush of visitors left beach areas “covered in faecal matter and stinking of urine.”

Another said: “Botany Road is the most packed, I’ve ever seen it in my nine years of living down this road! You would not get the fire brigade down the road nor an ambulance. There are lots of angry residents within the area.”

A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police was called to Kingsgate at 12.20pm following a report that the road was blocked by parked cars.

“Officers attended the scene and carried out traffic management to keep vehicles in the area moving.

“Officers also engaged with the public, explaining to people their personal responsibilities and encouraging them to adhere to the government’s instructions.”

Complaints were also made of people using the caves at Botany as toilets with volunteers having to clean up waste.

Officers were also called to attend an incident at Viking Bay when a fight broke out between two groups of people.

The brawl took place in front of bewildered families. It is understood police moved the brawling groups on.

In Margate the queue for the public toilets stretched along the front with more than 30 people waiting to use the facilities.

Cars are parked by the 19th Hole pub and the road going to Palm Bay is gridlocked with people turning around.

One resident said her husband, a key worker, was jammed in the queue for some 25 minutes as he tried to make deliveries.

Thanet council has put extra measures in place due to the anticipated influx of visitors to isle beaches.

There are extra public bins and dedicated cleansing crews who are focusing on the promenade areas. The authority is asking people to bin their litter or take it home with them following mess left behind on beaches after the hot weather on Wednesday.

Thanet council has opened public toilets at four beaches -Ramsgate, Margate, Joss Bay and Viking Bay  following the relaxation of ‘lockdown’ rules earlier this month.

However, a social media post from the authority had asked people to be responsible about parking, litter and social distancing.

They said:  “We’ve been lucky to have had good weather, but this and the Government’s restrictions changing has (inevitably) meant more people have visited Thanet, particularly our beaches.

Photo by Carl Hudson

“We have been deeply disappointed to have seen that just a few days of additional freedoms some people have not been responsible – there’s been extra litter on our beaches (when the volume of litter was close to zero during lockdown), cars have been parked in a completely irresponsible manner, and toilets being closed has meant some people doing the worst!

“As always, these are the actions of a small minority of people. We appreciate that the vast majority of our residents and visitors do respect the rules and behave in a way that helps to protect our beautiful coastline.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic, so please remember that we are not operating as normal.”

The relaxation of curbs on public life means people are now allowed to be outdoors as long as they like and there are no travel restrictions.

This has raised fears of creating a second peak of coronaviurus but it has also been highlighted that many of those visiting parks and beaches have been stuck in rooms or flats without any outdoor space since the ‘lockdown’ was enacted on March 23.

Craig Mackinlay

In his MP column today (May 25) Craig Mackinlay said: “The unseasonably good weather and the government advice to allow further travel and visits to public spaces, whilst observing social distancing, was always going to cause conflict and concern.

“On the one hand it is eminently possible to remain well spaced from each other in family groups but, as ever, there are fools out there who will disregard common sense. But by and large over the past weeks we’ve mostly become alert to spacing; the lure of our blue flag beaches meant that we attracted huge numbers of visitors from out of area.

By Swift Aerial Photography

“This was bound to happen and I’m sorry to say there was a touch of ‘King Canute’ in the local response keeping toilets closed. Whilst many local residents were annoyed at the influx with the usual parking problems which I have long tried to solve, particularly in the Botany Bay area, the greatest anger was the rubbish and use of the beaches and surroundings as open lavatories.

“I am pleased to see that there is now a limited opening of these facilities. In defence of Thanet District Council they have struggled to recruit additional staff to properly service the public toilets.

“This is not at all surprising – would temporary staff really wish to be stuck in a small space, be the marshalls of distancing: one in one out, clean and disinfect on a minute-by-minute basis whilst wearing extensive PPE? It is not a dream occupation no matter what the rate of pay.

“We have few big industries in Thanet, but we have lots of smaller ones which come together and that is our tourist offer bringing £320m per year into the area. We need this spending as it trickles down to support much else from retail spending to rent payments. We need to manage this, welcome it where we can and give our local businesses a chance of getting back to normal.”