Opinion with Christine Tongue: Westbrook bay is lovely – but what’s with the giant-sized bins?

Christine tackles the giant bin

Like many disabled people in this pandemic, I don’t get out much. So, when a friend offered a trip to Westbrook bay to look at the new bins, I jumped at it. (Well I don’t actually jump any more but my heart leapt with excitement!) What she really said was: “We’ve got some new bins on our seafront which are bigger than you!” Irresistible!

I haven’t been further than the vaccination centre for months so it took me by surprise at how lovely Westbrook bay is, even on a cloudy drizzly day. Long stretches of safe sandy beach, spectacular sunsets – and very little else!

For wheelchair users, Westbrook has a long, wide promenade, gentle slopes to the beach and if the disabled toilet gets a bit of attention, you might even be able to go to the loo. But think twice before you try to use the bins!

Margate is where the trendy arty folk go nowadays – and where investment is being attracted. But other parts of Thanet need investment too!

What Westbrook lacks is a cafe, a beach supplies shop and decent bins! And a feeling that somebody cares about it!

I met two people who do care and are about to form an action group to try to improve things.

Two local residents, Martin Rayner and Annie Yorath, are campaigning to improve their seafront. They’re very disappointed about the new bins. Westbrook is lined with beach huts but the only bins are enormous ones, spread thinly along the promenade, blocking the view and defying anyone smaller than the Hulk to try to put anything in! Heavy lids on bins the same height as me and capable of trapping ten small children who fell in trying to dispose of a sweet wrapper? Who thought of that?

“I can’t just tell my grandchildren to go and put something in the bin. It’s impossible to reach!” says Annie.

I sent a jolly pic of me trying to open one of the bins to my friend in Amsterdam, and he sent me pics of sensible Dutch bins, with pedals to open them, or lower ones, at wheel chair or small child height, with a rolling device on the top and underground storage. And frequent rubbish collection.

The Amsterdam ones have instructions in English as well as Dutch. All the Westbrook ones have is a notice to say you can use them for dog poo as well as general waste. So you definitely don’t want your grandchildren falling in…..

But with no shops or cafes perhaps you’re not expected to generate much waste. I spotted a hopeful sign that said CAFE but all there is at the moment is a derelict relic of former grandeur, the Westbrook Loggia, a cafe with balcony bar which Martin and Annie are hoping will get some investment to restore it at least to minimal use.

Local people are trying to improve things on an individual basis. On one side of the bay someone is creating a small garden and researching plants that don’t mind being in salt and sea breezes.

Thanet could be the post pandemic paradise that everybody needs! With lockdown easing again and a lot of resorts in Europe being out of bounds through quarantine restrictions, holiday makers will be looking for alternatives in the traditional English seaside.

Westbrook would be ideal. But you want people to visit for the lovely beach and the exciting vintage architecture – not the giant man-eating bins!

NOTE: Thanet council has installed large colourful bins along the coastline. There’s an extra 80 of them, holding 1100 litres, in readiness for visitors to Thanet beaches.



  1. At least there are bins put there in time for the season. Better than mess all over the sand and promenade. These people could always bag up their waste and take it home with them.

  2. Some people are never satisfied.
    Better big bins than ones which are always full or overflowing.
    I’m sure children will be ok and not get trapped.
    It sounds like every opportunity to criticise.

    • Agreed.

      In reality, how much waste does a disabled person generate in any event ? A disabled person is hardly likely to be carrying a quantity of food packaging, cans or bottles of drink etc. in the first instance – that then need to be disposed of.

      The bins are aimed at the groups and families that invade our beaches and leave all their rubbish behind – not at the likes of Christine who clearly did not have any rubbish to dispose of so it is all really rather academic.

      I assume the smaller bins have been removed because experience has shown that a significant number of the great British public will continue to force rubbish into an already full small bin rather than lift the lid of an adjacent larger bin – so the opportunity has therefore had to be removed as the seagulls merely pull the rubbish out and make even more mess.

      • Are you insinuating that disabled people are a separate species? Are we a public nuisance in the eyes of an imaginary superrace? 

        If we define a disabled person as somebody who struggles to operate the heavy lids on these bins then well over 50 percent of the visitors could fall into that category. A better designed bin would have a foot pedal to allow hands-free operation – or an opening instead of a lid.

        And what would happen if one of these bins tipped over or if somebody failed to close the lid?

  3. Kent Resident and Seaside Lover.
    Leave a negative comment why don’t you. These two people could always take their rubbish home as well, plus all of the other people who decide they cannot be bothered and somebody else should pay. I bet you even grumble about paying 10p for a bad from a supermarket or shop.
    Let’s see how much you have shrunk by the time you get to Christine’s age and what your abilities and disabilities are like.
    What goes round comes round. (1) look at your parents abilities at Christines age. (2) picture yourself in a similar situation.

    • But people don’t take their rubbish home, that’s the point.
      And no, I don’t grumble about paying for a bag, not that I do as I have my own shopping bags…nor do I see what the cost of bags has to do with this.
      No need to be judgemental.
      I’m all for the bins. I wasn’t the one making negative remarks.

    • Your negative comment seems to show you are the person complaining about the bins. How can a positive thing be classed as negativity?
      You will no doubt be pleased to hear that I am also old and disabled but I do not go around Thanet looking for things to complain about. I do not leave rubbish around the streets or promenade because the bins are overflowing either. I take my own shopping bags with me and reuse them, so everything you assumed about me you are wrong about. Your judgemental attitude is not called for R.

    • You ask your colleague to bin it for you, or you wheel along a bit until you get to an accessible bin, or you take it home and dispose of it there.
      There’s always a solution.

      • Another, more obvious, solution is to install a bin that’s fit for purpose. One that can be used by people under 6ft who are not weight lifters and who do not have two spare hands.

        • I think these bins fit the bill.
          What on earth would be the point in manufacturing bins with lids too heavy to lift, even if you could reach them?
          There are tens of thousands of such bins in use all over the place.

      • TDC could install smaller bins next to these large ones, perhaps. The large ones are unlikely to be needed there all year round, but the small ones would be useful all year.

  4. Ridiculous choice of bin! And even if no children fall into the bin they could break an arm or two trying to operate the heavy lid too close to the hinge. And why WOULDN’T they want to climb onto or into a giant toy with wheels?

    Are there any photos of the recycling bins at this location?

    • By the same argument, we should ban all motor traffic from our town streets. Why WOULDN’T a child run into the road?

  5. Shocking, a major European capital city has better bins than Westbrook. Why can’t TDC spend millions digging out new infra structure so bins can be tiny at surface level? Dizgusted.

    • Hope your conviction for assaulting a disabled person won’t interrupt your feelings of shock Gary Perkins. How is it going? Are you and Helen Whitehead still pretending your assault was justified?

  6. These type of bins used to be outside the Telephone Exchange in Ramsgate, but local tradesman would use them to overflowing! I used to spend 4 or 5 months a year in Spain after I retired, and they have these bins on most street corners, and they emptied them daily! This is a good idea if the bins are emptied regularly, and are not abuses by tradesmen!

  7. Thanet really isn’t very friendly when it comes to considering the needs of our disabled residents, is it? Only a couple of months ago the TDC administration, fronted on this issue by Steve Albon, announced the closure of several beach lifts. Funds to maintain them couldn’t be found. (Perhaps they could’ve raided the Non-Disclosure Agreement pot, after all the cost of repairing and servicing the lifts is only a tiny fraction of what the council spends on making sure former employees are gagged).

    If it hadn’t been for a campaign by Christine Tongue and others these lifts would have closed, disadvantaging thousands of disabled residents and visitors. Make no mistake, the cabinet at TDC were forced to revisit a decision which had already been taken as a result of these campaigners. So please keep campaigning Christine.

    On the wider subject of Westbrook, it is disgraceful that the loggia has been allowed to go to ruin. Where is ward councillor Mick Tomlinson, Mayor of Margate? Why has this building been allowed to crumble?
    There have been several ideas for the loggia, including the brilliant ideas outlined on the Project Combat Westbrook Facebook Group. This is led by the world-class athlete Cameron Else, from Margate and would create a Community Hub with a focus on Sports and Recreation, please take a look.
    Despite being the runaway winning project during the Margate Millions events held before Covid, this ideas was nixed by the Margate Town Deal Board, for opaque reasons, please look it up. Perhaps this project would have had more success if Cameron Else had been backed by an offshore trust, who knows?

    • “disadvantaging thousands of disabled residents and visitors”
      Are there any hard facts about the numbers of people, and their disabilities, that actually use the lifts? My own experience or Ramsgate’s lift is that it is hardly ever used.

      • What sort of hard facts do you want us to disclose? Do you want proof of any respiratory conditions or do you merely want a count of the number of wheelchairs that use the service each day?

          • If we expect the Local Authority to spend large amounts of public money on restoring Ramsgate’s lift, then we should be absolutely sure that the lift is well used.
            Is it?
            Does anyone know?
            How many people on average use it each day?
            You don’t need to be rude. Just answer the question.

        • Yes. Counting the number of people who use the lift each day would provide valuable evidence to support (or otherwise) the spending of large sums of public money.

          • you said on a previous story that you stood at the bus stop and watched how many people were using the lift and don’t deny it Phyllis because I replied by saying that if it had been a man watching the lift he could have been called perverse

  8. disability discrimination alive and well in Thanet led proudly it seems by TDC, should be proud of themselves, as should some of the residents here

  9. TDC could surely licence a local business to run a small pop up cafe at the Westbrook Bay site for the Summer months. A small and logical initiative that would mean a lot for both locals and visitors. Interest has been expressed I understand but little action (however, it’s OK to shell out 30k on a survey of the building). Small bins last year were overflowing – bigger ones avoid a depressing blowing in the wind rubbish scenario. Build back Westbrook better eh… to use that dodgy slogan.

  10. Letting a local business run a pop cafe at the Westbrook Bay site for the Summer would be a logical and good move for TDC. Interest has been expressed I believe but little action. Desolation not a good look for an award winning beach. Small bins were overflowing last year throughout the Summer. Larger ones have to be the answer to avoid a trail of rubbish blowing in the North Westerlies…

    • The cafe was running until a year or so ago when the current owner retired.
      You can’t be totally amazed that with the restrictions of Covid, people have not been clamouring to open up enterprise which might get shut down again.

  11. This is SO typically Thanet. They’d be moaning whatever the bins were like. Not happy unless they’re moaning. Moan, moan and moan. No bins – moan! Bins too small – moan! Bins too big – moan!

    Really, is some grumbling old misery really worthy of a news article?

    • Julie you should try sitting in a wheelchair and try lifting a heavy lid with one hand it is not easy, hope you are never disabled although it would open some of your eyes to have to spend even an hour in a disabled persons place you would never cope and if you are inferring that I am a grumbling old misery think again your attitude is typical of a great number of people in Thanet and it is disgusting that many able bodied people begrudge disabled people the chance to have things made easier for them you madam are disgusting have an unhappy life dear

    • I Agree- the content is becoming too friends and family.

      Or schmoozy whoozy bordering on Thanet creative sector nepotism .

      This is a real low of a story.

      Disabled people I know are far too resourceful in gadding about to talk rubbish

      • It really is Thanet apathy at it’s best.

        Opinion from someone who’s opinion wasn’t asked for .

        No disrespect but is this an opinion on Westbrook Bay ?

        That TDC have responded to public demands and deployed additional 1100 bins to be avoid overspill?

        That TDC officers are as in my experience doing a fantastic job largely .

        Unlike the elected representatives whom are rubbish councillors elected from less than a quarter of the electorate?

        I’d rather hear more about

        A) pathways being closed

        B ) Assaults and conviction

        Independent editing free of nepotism and schmoozing with local businesses or random opinions unasked for .

  12. Are there truthfully no smaller bins say within 100m of the large bin in the picture. If not then the situation is easily remedied , if there are then its a non story.

  13. Oh my Christ if there isn’t always some whining pain in the arse who expects the entire world to revolve around them, their beliefs or their abilities.
    I’m red/green colour blind yet I’ve never whined about the colour of traffic lights.
    Just accept that things get done for a cost which suit the majority of people.

    The world isn’t perfect. Deal with it.

    • Jack, are you a financial director of a privatised railway company or do you just share their views on social cleansing of non-profitable customers? We seem to be living in a “survival of the fittest” culture where ticket offices are closed, customers are forced to use online services and anyone who doesn’t swallow this nonsense is an unnecessary nuisance. If our society caters only for the fluctuating fortunate majority then it’s in a pretty sick state.

      • Ian, you seem to be confusing minor inconvenience with social cleansing.
        Everybody has to put up with things which they feel are an inconvenience.
        I, for example, can’t hold a commercial flight licence because in aviation, my colour blindness would be dangerous as many systems use red and green lights.
        I don’t demand that the aviation industry adapt and the cost is passed on to everybody else. I just deal with it. I’m not being socially cleansed. I’m just unlucky.

  14. I think Jack is probably correct in stating that “things get done… which suit the majority of people”- and that this is so because of the cost. It is the utilitarian principle.

    • Agreed this is such a non story , chair users I know couldn’t care less , unless cornered and brow beaten into joining the previous non whining reaction- they’d simply keep on trucking like fearless land pirates until a bin appears.

      Well done TDC officers good job –

  15. Utilitarianism is about prioritising the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers. But most people would not be happy living in a community where the needs of the weak and vulnerable were ignored. And remember age and disability of some sort will affect most of us eventually.

  16. Happiness in this case surely means contentment or satisfaction. But I assume that, practically speaking, utilitarianism means that any council will spend the majority of its budget on things that are useful to the majority of its residents.

  17. Yes the council needs to be pragmatic but why are so many people in denial that there has been an error in judgement about the choice of bins? This is a public beach not a private building site. We need waist height waste bins not industrial strength overhead skips.

    And why on earth is there so much hostility towards disadvantaged fellow humans? Do people in this thread seriously think they will be fit and healthy and invincible forever?

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