Thanet’s Summer season in numbers – from 1,800 tonnes of litter collected to 71% hike in visitors by train

Sunshine attracted visitors to Thanet beaches Photo Dan Thompson

Figures released by Thanet council reveal the work undertaken to cope with the huge influx of people to the isle this summer- including the collection of 1,800 tonnes of litter.

Dedicated multi-agency activity was in place as part of the council’s Beach Management Plan as easing of covid restrictions resulted in a massive rise in visitors to the coast.

During the peak period, train travel to Thanet increased by 71%.

Coping with the impact of such large visitor numbers required work from agencies including the council, NHS and South East Coast Ambulance Service, Kent Police, RNLI, Your Leisure’s Bay Inspectors and Southeastern Railway.

Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Reece Pugh, said: “First and foremost I want to congratulate and thank all staff from the council and our partner agencies for their commitment and dedication throughout the summer season. These statistics demonstrate the significant impact and contribution they have made to the local community. They’re not only helping to keep Thanet clean, but also ensuring people are safe.

“Managing the large volumes of people heading to our coast has been a challenge for the past two years but, by taking a collaborative approach and working hard in partnership with the relevant agencies, we have been able to ensure our services run much more smoothly.

Photo Frank Leppard

“Tackling litter left on beaches continues to be a huge priority for us and alongside ample bins on our seafronts, we’ve introduced a number of initiatives this season to encourage behaviour change. We hope that people who leave litter on our beaches begin to see sense and understand that what they’re doing is selfish, dangerous and wrong.”

Thanet’s summer season  in numbers

Extra measures to keep our beaches clean Photo Frank Leppard

1,800 tonnes of litter collected throughout the season

7,000 hours of litter picking completed across eight of Thanet’s most popular beaches by council staff (not including the efforts from the local community and groups!)

Large (1100 litre) litter bins emptied approximately 20,000 times (19,840)

Smaller street-sized/wheelie bins (240 litre) emptied approximately 14,880 times (during July and August alone)

Over 80 acres (or 53 football pitches) of sand raked by the council’s tractor which sifts litter from Thanet’s larger beaches (Margate Main Sands and Viking Bay)

Over 100,000 bags of litter collected by the council since April when resources were increased at Easter

10,000 litter bags dispensed from 38 new council litter and dog bag stations which provide free bags to the public to pick up after themselves or their dogs.

1,500 bags dispensed from stations at Botany Bay and Kingsgate Bay since their installation in mid-August.

At least one call a day to crews from the South East Coast Ambulance (SECAMb) requesting attendance at a Thanet beach or promenade this season.

A designated 7-days a week medical unit installed throughout the summer at Margate Main Sands to relieve pressure at urgent care/Accident and Emergency.

The council’s parking team issued on average over 100 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for parking offences on any busy sunny day during the summer.

As a result of the council’s Beach and Coastal Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), introduced at Easter (April 2021):
– Over 40% (41.2%) of cases logged by PSPO enforcement officers related to challenging people who were ignoring rules that state which beaches dogs can/cannot be on.
– Over half (51.4%) of these reports specifically related to people walking their dogs outside of permitted hours on Botany Bay, with a quarter of reports for dog walking on Margate Main Sands.
– 42.6% of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) issued were for barbecues before 6pm, bonfires or large gatherings held illegally on our beaches.
– 17% of reports related to people camping on our beaches.

During the peak season, train trips to Thanet via the Southeastern network were up by 71% (by +116% in June, +64% in July and +38% in August) compared to the previous year.

540 tonnes of seaweed was removed from West Bay, St Mildred’s, Westbrook, Nayland Rock, and Minnis Bay, and taken to a nearby farm.

Almost 4,000 people used the Beach Check UK app which helps visitors and residents enjoy beaches off the beaten track which are quieter and less crowded. Thanet was ranked second highest out of the eight popular coastal destinations featured in the app.

Extra resources, including more bins, cleansing staff and security, put in place from Easter, which is three months earlier than normal. These extra preparations also included extending working hours for beach cleaners from 6am-8pm and several new litter initiatives were introduced for the summer holidays.


  1. Did anything nice happen?
    This is a catalogue of unpleasant negative things (other than the 71% increase in rail visitors)

  2. KCC Economic Development used to produce a Tourism Report for the area – not sure if they still do – that estimated the benefit of Tourism to Thanet each year. Without this, all we can assume is that this is a huge cost for local residents to provide a clean up for (mostly) day-trippers who provide very little benefit for the area.

  3. Yet again a statement from a Councillor which barely mentions the vital role that lots of local volunteers have in keeping our streets, green spaces and beaches clean.

    If it wasn’t for these local residents helping out the place would look a whole lot worse.

  4. AS a tourist town, we must always be monitoring what the benefit to both residents and tourists are to our community. Spain, Portugal,Greece et al live on the proceeds of tourism and do not major on how many Parking notices were issued or tonnes of litter collected. We need to know the parameters for a real tourist industry town and how we can fit into that culture. Why not camp on the beach or at least provide places with toilets near to cafes so that ‘tourists’ can enjoy themselves. Why must we always harp on about what people would not be doing and concentrate on what they can do? Why are we banning people from parkng when we want them to park and come back and spend their money. We have to manage what they do in a positive way and not act like spoilsports. We need a forum that invites action from residents that positively encourages tourists and does not frighten them away. Just inmagine how you would like to be treated when you go away on holiday.

  5. Sadly most visitors contribute little or nothing to the local economy people coming by train don’t even pay for parking. Something needs to be put in place to stop the costs falling on local resident who want the benefits of our beaches and climate but can’t even be bothered to take their litter home or put it in the bins provided.

    • What an extraordinary comment! People coming by train don’t pollute the environment, don’t clog up the town, and are more likely to spend money, especially in pubs and bars.
      Parking fees do not contribute to the general public purse. The law does not allow such money to be spent on general things.

    • “Sadly most visitors contribute little or nothing to the local economy”
      Not so. In fact, according to a tourism economic impact study, published by Visit Kent, £25 million was spent on average in the local economy for every month of 2019.

  6. Yes the above is a considerable improvement on previous years . I pose the question as to whether it is a cost effective use of council tax to employ contractors to rake the main sands and order beaches with such frequency.
    Isn’t it about time the whole pavement area on the main sands promenade in Margate is pressure washed and disinfected as I can’t remember when or if ever this area has been cleaned since the magnificent beach steps project was completed ? It is now filthy in places and covered in grease and unsightly. No council with civic pride would think this was acceptable , much in the same way that no council with civic pride or respect for its residents and visitors would install portaloos in a prime location with disregard to individual modesty , located for all to see as well as being in breach of established regulations .
    An absolute disgrace . It’s about time TDC and it’s elected members sought a suitable solution to this issue by refurbishing the existing toilets . Cllr Pugh please apply yourself to this issue .

    • Good comment – I fully support it.
      Many of our public areas are shabby and run down because of neglect by TDC; the earlier point about volunteers is spot on too – without these community spirited people we would be knee deep in litter in many places.
      Yes, there are some positives but if young Mr Pugh wants a round of applause he needs to roll his sleeves up and get stuck into the underlying issues that have brought public areas in Thanet to such a sorry state.

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