A huge mound of rubbish on the Traveller site at Ramsgate Port will be “removed as soon as possible,” says Thanet council.
The fly-tipped waste has been at the site for around six weeks. The council says it is “currently under investigation.”
County Councillor Karen Constantine says she has been requesting removal of the rubbish “for several weeks.”
She said: “I have been asking Thanet District Council to take action to move this mess for weeks. All councils have a responsibility and process to deal with fly tipping, including prosecution, I would be happy for the council to take whatever action is deemed necessary, regardless of who has created this mess.
“However, it is the case that this dreadful fly tipping has been left on a residential site for longer than it should’ve been, and it is creating a public health hazard.
“I was talking with one of the mothers on the site who was telling me how difficult it is to prevent her young children from playing on and among this rubbish, and how worried she is that there may be asbestos other harmful substances amongst this waste.”
Yesterday (July 12) Cllr Constantine contacted Kent Public Health Director Dr Anjan Ghosh who, in turn, contacted Thanet council.
A Thanet District Council spokesperson said: “The council is aware of fly-tipping at the Port of Ramsgate. This incident is currently under investigation and it is not therefore possible to comment further at this time.
“The fly-tipped rubbish will be removed as soon as possible.”
Cllr Constantine added: “Anyone taking even a cursory look at the Port can see how the Pavee have been dumped there with no real concern for their welfare. It beggars belief that TDC employees are visiting the site and not requesting action on welfare and hygiene grounds.
“Moreover TDC last year received £50k funding from Central Government for the site and despite my requests for an update I still do not know what has happened to that money.
“I have been seeking a dialogue with TDC for more than 26 months, so that I can represent this group as their elected representative, with the same efficacy I represent others. For over two years this has been denied.”
Cllr Constantine says she is trying to seek “better and humane treatment, adequate and regularly cleaned toilets and washing facilities, site security and waste disposal.”
‘Simply not true’
However, the claim of no response from Thanet council is disputed by deputy council leader Cllr Helen Whitehead.
She said: “It is simply not true to claim that the council has denied dialogue regarding this matter.
“Since I have been in post we have actively sought a meeting with representatives for the travellers, including district and county councillors, and are still awaiting agreement of our meeting. Historically, a meeting was also offered by the previous administration.
“We agree with Cllr Constantine that this is not a suitable long term site for accommodation, and we have been clear about that from the outset.
“It is entirely incorrect to say that we have no concern for the welfare of the people staying at this site. There have been regular welfare checks undertaken, resources have been provided and we continue to actively search for a suitable long term site and directly support in terms of homelessness applications.
“We have continually funded welfare interventions and day to day support, but it is incorrect to say we have received funding from central government towards this.
“It is disappointing that this is becoming a political issue. The focus should absolutely be about supporting the individuals concerned and finding a suitable solution, which Thanet District Council has continually tried to do.”
Dealing with fly-tips
The council says it endeavours to act promptly to investigate when a fly-tip is reported and the waste is removed as quickly as possible to prevent further items being dumped at the same spot
There is CCTV in known hotspots across the district. Fly-tipping can lead to a £400 fixed penalty notice or a criminal prosecution and up to five years in prison.
If a resident sees any fly-tipping in the district, they are asked to report it via the council’s online form. There is also an online map which shows existing fly-tipping reports which TDC is in the process of investigating.
More information is available on the council’s website.
In December Thanet council Cabinet members agreed a £100,000 budget for the continued provision of showers, toilets and utilities and for legal costs associated with the temporary Traveller site on Ramsgate Port.
The spend was to be transferred from the council’s general fund to the community safety budget. It made a total estimated spend on the facilities for the 2022/23 financial year of £150,000.
In April the High Court quashed a section 77 eviction notice served by Thanet council.
The notice was served on the family at the Port in December 2021 but the Appeal Court deemed it invalid after it concluded: “no attempt was made to give reasonable, or any, notice before the process of removing SO (the claimant) by the use of draconian powers was implemented.”
The Pavee group has been at the port since June 2021. Thanet District Council originally attended Magistrates’ Court in May of that year seeking an order for removal of the family from Palm Bay. This was unsuccessful on welfare grounds and the council was told by the court to make available an alternative site. Ramsgate Port was identified as being able to provide facilities.
A ‘call for sites’ for Thanet’s updated Local Plan received no response in terms of putting forward land for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation.
A need for 7 permanent and 5 transit vehicle pitches in Thanet was identified in a study for Thanet council. Temporary tolerated pitches are when people on unauthorised encampments stay for an agreed amount of time.
Thanet currently does not have an authorised Traveller site, with the nearest being in Canterbury and Dover although these are often over-subscribed.