Volunteers who give thousands of hours clearing the beaches along the Kingsgate and Botany Bay coastline are heading up a scheme which will see charities benefitting from their efforts.
The Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate group has set up as a community interest company and is encouraging people to pay £15 for a Beach Clean Hour.
In return £5 will go towards the group’s nominated charities and an hour’s clean will take place with the volunteer posting a video or photos to show where and when the clean took place.
The remaining £10 of the fee will cover overheads, which includes an initial spend to create the CIC, with website, hosting and accounting costs.
Volunteer and project lead Barry Manners, from Botany Bay, says he hopes the scheme will evolve into a Friends of Thanet Coastline initiative with other local groups heading efforts to implement the beach cleans along their beaches.
The former London estate agent (pictured above) said: “We are making sure the whole system and the concept works and then hopefully we can expand it as this would mean economies of scale and we could have, for instance, one set of accounts and a finance officer.
“The process now is that we get a notification that someone has purchased a beach clean hour and it is allocated to a volunteer. Each beach clean will have a work sheet so we can tell people where, when and by who it is getting done.
“It can then be put on social media. What I would like is for our volunteers to have go-pro cameras and an app so people can see the clean being done in real time and this creates a real link between the person making the donation and boots on the ground.”
The 54-year-old says the plan is to put in most hours at the weekend, when beaches generally suffer the most littering, with a bit of time spread through the week.
Last year the volunteers gave some 2,000 hours of their time keeping Botany, Whiteness and Kingsgate Bays clean. On a typical busy weekend there would be 30 volunteers collecting some 30 bags of rubbish each day and preventing tonnes of plastics from entering our ocean eco-system.
But Barry said there were times when this became disheartening for members. He said: “People have been volunteering to pick up litter on beaches for the last 100 years. What has changed in the last few years is the amount of litter being left.
“The infrastructure just isn’t there to keep removing such large amounts of litter, the council simply hasn’t got the money to do it and the litter being left is mind boggling.
“You have 30 motivated volunteers collecting 30 bags during a Saturday afternoon, you can’t do that with the amount of public money available.
“But volunteers get burnt out. They spend hours cleaning the beach and the next day it is trashed again. Thanet council will announce it’s solved the problem with a couple of litter picker staff with no mention of the thousands of hours put in by volunteers. It demotivates people.
“So, we decided to get them motivated by making the cleans for money that will go to causes they care about, every hour they do supports our charities.”
Currently the beach clean donations will be made to Oasis Domestic abuse Service, district scouts, Thanet Winter Shelter and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue medics.
The Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate have already sold around 23 beach cleans, meaning around £115 for their charity causes has been collected.
If successful the plan to expand could be as one large group or through lots of smaller groups taking on their own initiatives.
Should these volunteers not be told of restrictions with covid this time of year there is very little litter on our beaches. Volunteering is fine but you are doing people out of work. The council are laughing at you yet we still have to pay our council tax for cleaning our beaches. Some people are always complaining about Dole on sea people are entitled to find work what you are doing doesn’t help.
Brian when did you last visit the beach in Botany Bay. I walk for miles in the area and I can assure even at this quiet time of year the area is strewn with litter. Hats off to the volunteers. I look forward to joining at some stage. Keep up the good work 👍🏻
Perhaps the Council should have actually employed the 10 extra street cleaners that our Council Tax went up to pay for last year. They would have made a big difference in the summer but the Council decided to bank the extra Council Tax money, not employ the staff and the result was filthy beaches and litter strewn streets.
Brian Stewart and Thanet Blind…..way to go guy’s, kick volunteers in the teeth, do you snarl at little children as well.
Well done all you volunteers, excellent work 👍
I certainly wasn’t criticising the volunteers. I think they do a great job. Just pointing out that, if Thanet Council had done what they promised and employed the 10 street cleaners that were included in this year’s budget, there wouldn’t be as much need for volunteers to have to do what they are doing.
As I understand it, the 2020 budget for the 10 environmental operatives was secured from removing a middle tier of effectively redundant TDC management & was totally unrelated to any increase in council tax. In April a reduced number of 5 environmental operatives will be taken on under the same conditions as the original 10 would have been, if extra costs related to the pandemic hadn’t scuppered this initiative: secure, permanent contracts as full time council employees – no contracting out to private companies.
Please can TDC Councillors with budgetary knowledge either confirm, or correct any aspect of this bid to correct misinformation.
Of course it’s related. If Thanet Council removed a layer of staff as you suggest and then didn’t use the resulting savings to pay for these staff to be recruited then this would free up revenue budget to keep this year’s Council Tax rise lower.
The fact remains that they didn’t do this, whilst recruiting a multitude of other staff during the year but not the street cleaners. That tells you all you need to know about Thanet Council’s priorities to keeping the streets and beaches clean. They didn’t even admit it until one of their Councillors let the cat out of the bag in January this year.
As for Councillors knowing what is going on with the Finances. Well, good luck with that. I would suggest none of them ever challenged the failure to recruit these staff – even during the height of the summer chaos when Thanet looked like a giant rubbish tip.
TDC Councillors with budgetary knowledge? Hmm, I feel you are expecting too much of these clowns.
Why don’t you put yourself forward as a prospective councillor, “Fedup B”?
Lesley Game, my local County and District
Councillor does a good job. It’s the inefficient infrastructure of local administration that is the problem.
And I’m not “fedup”. The contrary. I live among people who care for the local environment and are prepared to give up their time to effect positive change.
I can’t imagine why anyone would want to stand as a Councillor, nor seek employment as a Council worker.
A wearisome repeated theme on this and other social media sites is to knock the Council and its people. Nothing they do is ever right, in some people’s view. Everything that goes wrong is the Council’s fault, is their mantra.
With the best will in the world, the Council cannot be everywhere at once, all ears and eyes. It’s great that there are plenty of local people, some unsung heroes, who are willing to get stuck in to make our beaches and coast better places.
I endorse Ms Rees’s invitation. If you think that you can do better, then put your name forward for the next local elections. Publish your manifesto, let us know what (and how) you would do that’s not currently being done to make Thanet a better place.