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.
Spotted our BIG colourful bins along the coastline?
There’s an extra 80 of them, so if this #bankholiday is busy, we’ve got our big 1100 litre bins in place!
— Communications Team (@ThanetCouncil) May 28, 2021