Thursday 25 June marked an unwelcome milestone for Brighton and Hove.
According to our beach cleaning staff, some of whom have worked with us for 15 years, we saw the largest amount of rubbish ever collected in a single day from our beaches.
The average collection at this time of year is around three tonnes. On Thursday 25 June, it was a staggering 11 tonnes.
Our staff start at 5am. On that day it took five hours for a team of six people to clear 600 metres of beach of the rubbish left behind.
The city is having to cope with a daily tidal wave of people descending on the city’s parks and beaches, some of whom are leaving their rubbish behind them rather than walking a few extra metres to an empty bin or taking it home.
We’ve introduced additional bin collections along the seafront and in larger parks throughout the day and weekends, 30 more large bins in heavy footfall areas including Hove Lawns (there are now around 400 bins along the seafront), enforcement officers patrolling the beach an extra hour a day handing out £150 ‘on the spot’ fines, an extra truck to focus on collecting litter on the seafront, extra staff to clear litter on the seafront and in parks and we are having a recruitment drive for more staff.
I highlighted on Facebook the hours that our staff had spent clearing the beach and got an incredible number of responses.
Passionate opinions were expressed about the selfishness of ‘litterbugs’ and some people suggested deterrents, including one that we tattoo ‘slob’ on the heads of litterers – a little over the top perhaps, but you get the strength of feeling!
Some great ideas about how to discourage littering were shared as well and my thanks to everyone who engaged with that discussion.
The council’s measures will go some way to address the litter issues we face – but that’s a huge amount of council resources going into something that we could be doing for ourselves.
Shouldn’t people take responsibility for their own rubbish so the council could use those resources for something else instead?
Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.