Original article from Kent Live
An organiser at one of Thanet's coastal litter picking groups has called on the council to step up efforts to crack down on litterers and rule breakers on our beaches.
Barry Manners, one of the founders of the Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate, says the new Public Space Protection Order (PSPOs) brought in earlier this year to ban barbecues on the beach until 6pm has started with a more 'softly-softly' approach
As part the orders, beach wardens tell offenders to dispose of the barbecues safely and not bring one to the beach again.
However with one volunteer picking up five disposable barbecues abandoned on Botany Bay in just one morning on Tuesday (June 8), supposedly after the council-employed beach cleaner had done their rounds, Mr Manners thinks the time has come for stronger action to be taken.
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And despite the new rules Thanet District Council says no FPNs have been issued due to inappropriate barbecue use so far this season.
Mr Manners said: "Disposable barbecues have become quite ubiquitous on beaches, but as ever it's a minority of people who are causing the problems.
"I don't think enforcement are being as draconian as they could be, I think they're warning people, so it's a situation where barbecues are allowed as long as they're put out when asked.
"The warden patrols finish at about 8pm but there are people in the evenings having bonfires, even burning building waste which is full of nails and staples which are left behind on the beach for kids to run across.
"We've had the softly-softly, the signage is there, the wardens I have met are working above and beyond, you can't fault their dedication, but I think it's time they go from advisors to seeing a barbecue and fining £100."
Mr Manners believes once a few fines are handed out and publicised, in part by the recipients themselves warning others not to use barbecues on the beach during the day via social media, there will be a strong enough deterrent to prevent beach barbecues – and therefore prevent more dangerous waste being left on Thanet's beaches.
"95 per cent of people at Botany Bay and Foreness Point are very respectful, but when I was down there this afternoon picking up food containers I also found human excrement," Mr Manners said.
"These people have no place in society as far as I'm concerned. We shouldn't be giving them advisories.
"I don't want the warden to have a little chat with them and say they shouldn't do that, I want them to be fined and I think any sane person would.
"There's a difference between picking up a couple of bits and pieces, and picking up behind people who have total disregard for other people."
Litter pickers and anti-litter campaigners have raised concerns the cash-strapped council may simply rely on groups like the Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate to keep the beaches clean, when it should really be the council's responsibility.
But Mr Manners believes being vocal about the work they are doing has forced the council to step up its efforts.
He said: "I have one or two neighbours who say we shouldn't pick up the litter, it's the council's job and we're taking a job away, but until we started being vocal about it and became a lot more organised, local people were picking up hundreds of kilos of rubbish every weekend.
"As residents and locals living here we got fed up of trash just left on the beach, being washed out to sea, then watching it all be washed back up in the winter.
"Botany Bay is 85 per cent covered during high tide so an awful lot of trash left on the beach ends up going out with the tide, and I think the council relied on the tide as its beach cleaner.
"But we've made a lot of noise and I think that's one of the reasons we have a cleaner at all – we didn't have one at all until last summer.
"It's great we have the wardens, it's great they're motivated and very on board to look after the beaches, but I would rather see them handing out fines now. We need to see some money coming in from fines to cover the costs."
Cllr Bob Bayford, cabinet member for environmental services, said: "Our environmental enforcement officers encourage beach users to do the right thing by following the PSPO. They also educate them on ways to be responsible on our coastline.
"When officers find people are not following the PSPO, they will first engage with them to ensure they are aware of the order and are clear of what they can and cannot do whilst on our beaches.
"On most occasions, people cooperate fully when informed about the PSPO. This includes extinguishing and removing barbecues from the beach when asked to do so. Naturally officers cannot be at every beach and bay at all times, but will respond to a report when received and attend.
"Our officers have noted a limited number of reports in relation to discarded barbecues and so far this season they have not needed to issue FPN’s for inappropriate barbecue use. It is expected that as the summer progresses, and knowledge of the PSPO spreads, these issues will become less common.
"To raise awareness of the Beach and Coast PSPO in Thanet, officers from the council alongside representatives from Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Kent Police, will be at Westbrook beach (3pm – 5pm) and Stone Bay beach (7pm-9pm) on Saturday, June 12.
"The PSPO awareness day will help people understand what they can and can’t do on the beach, and why it is important to follow the rules, as well as encourage people to get involved with a community litter pick."
To follow the Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate or to donate a litter pick press here.