Residents in Cliftonville’s Athelstan Road and neighbouring streets Dalby Square and Ethelbert Road are living with “an unending” tide of “sanitary wear, soiled nappies, rotting food waste, cat litter and seagull guano distributed throughout the length of the street, peppering cars, homes and windows, with no end in sight.”
The issue is caused by the continually overflowing paladin bins, aggravated by the year-long problem of missing lids, and seagulls then ripping open exposed bags and scattering debris along the road and pavements.
In October 2020 paladin bins at the former car wash building end of the road were removed due to fly-tipping and overspilling waste on a daily basis. It was hoped that getting rid of the bins would solve the fly-tipping issue. Seagull proof bags and/or black wheelie bins were issued to residents and a twice daily removal of any rubbish at the site was put in place by Thanet council.
But residents say they are still plagued by streets filled with waste.
A spokesperson for the Athelstan Road tenants and residents association said: “The concern is that the atrocious state of Athelstan Road’s paladin bins – mid street and end of street – is not a unique, isolated situation, but is shared by streets to both sides of Athelstan Road – Dalby Square & Ethelbert Road – and how unspeakably obscene the long-term waste management status quo continues to be for the community.
“The community experiences an unending, outrageous situation: sanitary wear, soiled nappies, rotting food waste, cat litter and seagull guano distributed throughout the length of the street, peppering our cars, our homes, our windows, with no let up and no end in sight.
“It’s very concerning that it’s taken well over a year since such a supposedly basic issue – having paladin bins with missing/broken lids replaced – hasn’t been possible.
“The year-plus delay since initially reporting these bins as missing their lids is just bonkers – failure to provide such a very basic amenity – working communal bins – is beyond ridiculous.
“The communities on Athelstan Road, Dalby Square and Ethelbert Road are woken at approximately 4am every single day by dozens of habituated seagulls ripping up bin bags inside and surrounding the paladin bins, plus the bags of household waste dumped on the pavement.
“This cannot reasonably be described as anything other than totally unacceptable. This broken paladin bin issue must be resolved with the utmost urgency by those within TDC who are responsible,”
The waste issue is one that has been ongoing for a number of years. It prompted a Clean Up Cliftonville campaign by the Friends of Cliftonville Coastline in February 2020 and ARTRA and Cliftonville West ward councillors have repeatedly raised the problem with Thanet council.
Ward councillor Alan Currie said: “With regard to the missing communal bin lids, two out of three in Edgar Road have been replaced, the same in Athelstan Road. I have frequently requested that all the damaged bins are replaced.
“There have been a few different meetings between ARTRA, ward councillors, management and cabinet members over the last year where all issues were raised by Cliftonville West ward councillors. Subsequently changes to bin emptying and street cleaning was introduced on July 1.
“I have also requested that extra attention is focused on the communal bins in our ward which are under immense pressure from the increased amount of rubbish produced over the last two years. I have made regular checks on these communal bins and there has been an improvement.
“As all collections are made during the day some bins, especially at weekends, are full to bursting by the morning. However, most bins are emptied around 7am. Some residents have asked about an evening collection which would be more than welcome but resources are just not available for this service. Since 2015 there has been a 60% funding cut by the central government to TDC.
“Myself, Cllr Keen and Cllr Scobie continue to push for increased recycling in our ward and every week we issue extra bins and bags to local residents. We recently requested that sealed containers for recycling plastic bottles be issued for Cliftonville West as well as on the main beaches in Margate, Broadstairs etc.
“I can assure every resident that being a ward councillor in Cliftonville West is not a role for the faint hearted.”
In April this year Thanet council was awarded a grant of £50,000 as part of a pilot scheme to tackle fly-tipping.
The money, distributed by charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), was earmarked to target fly-tipping hotspots at Athelstan and Ethelbert Roads through more enforcement, increased CCTV coverage and raising awareness.
The new project includes alleyway gating in Athelstan Road – with the opportunity to create a linear community garden- and CCTV.
The measures were requested by Athelstan Road Tenants & Residents’ Association (Artra) and then put forward by Thanet Multi-agency Task Force (MTF). A initial bid to the Home Office failed but was then secured through the WRAP scheme.
Thanet council said the aim was to increase prosecutions for fly-tipping but also to improve how the area looks and create more community ownership.
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the ongoing issues with waste volumes in Athelstan Road and neighbouring streets in Cliftonville. We will arrange to replace the existing paladin bins with lidded ones as soon as possible.
“Our street cleaning team empties the bins at the sea front end of Athelstan Road at least twice a day and in addition, our enforcement team monitors the area for waste-related anti-social behaviour such as fly-tipping.”
UPDATE: Photo taken by ward councillor Alan Currie on August 14 after street cleaning team had visited.