Abseiling cleaners have removed a huge pile of rubbish from a section of Madeira Terrace deemed too dangerous to access by foot.
The mid-level terrace has become a popular spot for rough sleepers who brave the crumbling structure but often leave behind drug paraphernalia, bedding and even supermarket trollies.
The Save the Madeira Terraces campaign previously held regular clean-ups with the support of Cityclean, who provided equipment.
However, since last year, two clean-ups have been cancelled and the group has now been denied all access on health and safety grounds following a new report by structural engineers – a decision it’s not happy with.
Last week, Brighton-based Sussex Rope Access were hired by the council to clear the rubbish which had accumulated in the meantime.
Rachel Chasseaud, the council’s assistant director of city environment, said: “Our structural engineers have told us that the mid-level of Madeira Terrace is very dangerous for people to walk on or have machinery on as it could collapse.
“We fenced the area off to make clear no one was allowed, so it was a real concern that rough sleepers had set up camp and then left piles of rubbish.
“Some people walking on Marina Parade above the terrace walkway had also tossed rubbish into the fenced off area. It was too dangerous for our staff to work on the walkway, so we called in Sussex Rope Access who are professionals in getting into difficult areas by abseiling.”
The specialist team removed the waste from the mid-level and transferred it to ground level where Cityclean staff waited with a truck to take the rubbish away. The process will now be repeated on an ‘as and when’ basis until the area can be made safe.
Rachel added: “Everyone has done a brilliant job and removed a lot of dangerous items like drug needles and other potentially harmful items.
“Committed volunteers had contacted us to say they were prepared to go in and remove the waste, but as a responsible local authority, we couldn’t allow any member of the public to put themselves in danger.”
However Jax Atkins, of the Save Madeira Terraces campaign, said she was still angry and frustrated that the regular clean-ups her group organised are now on hold, with the last two cancelled due to health and safety fears.
she said: “I was informed that the report from the engineers would be in and seen by 31 March but we have still not had an official response from it, only been told that new issues had been discovered by the engineers and the council would have to rewrite their health and safely guidance.
“We are in a state of limbo – there are so many people with normal common sense wanting to help but not being allowed to.
The area was fenced off years ago and there have always been people climbing over or around the fence to get in. There has always been drug paraphrenalia and we just go in with sharps boxes, grabbers, protective gloves and remove them easily & safely.
Why Cityclean says this is dangerous I can’t understand. We even have Pauline – a lady well into her 80s – who manages this with ease!
“We are also told that filthy mattresses and junk can’t be removed because it may belong to a homeless person. No-one is allowed in here because it’s so dangerous, yet the homeless or anyone else who wants to stay there are allowed to.
“When we started the clean-ups more than two years ago, Cityclean were so helpful with tools and safety equipment. This changed towards the end of last year when they began being very uncooperative and didn’t help us in any way.
“I can’t in a million years understand the reason to use abseilers to clean the middle terrace. I would like to ask how much Cityclean have paid them and how much this has taken of council tax money.”