Litter fines up to £1,000 hang over the heads of seaside resort residents who claim razor-beaked seagulls are causing the mess.
Black sacks they have to leave out overnight aren’t strong enough to stop the super-sized birds pecking through, the community claims. But officials have ignored their pleas and and are handing out penalties anyway.
Birds who make a meal of the rubbish are said to have scattered litter for almost a mile in front of businesses and homes in Margate, Kent.
Residents say they are being fined because seagulls are ramp[aging through their rubbish when it is left out for collection
Spencer Hickman (pictured) branded the council’s decision to fine the seaside town’s business owners ‘ridiculous’
But the ‘appalled’ local council yesterday blamed it on ‘disregard’ for the environment shown ‘by a minority of residents.”
Now fed-up locals are demanding bins with lids and triple-thick bags to stop the increasingly severe problem in the Cliftonville area of the town.
Thanet District Council claims it cannot hand out green bins because there isn’t room, but claims it has offered those living in the area ‘seagull-proof’ bin bags.
Spencer Hickman was handed a fine after litter was left strewn outside his business, where he also lives.
The birds are said to have unleashed a line of litter in the Kent town that is almost a mile long, leaving an ‘appalled’ council blaming residents
He claims the fine spiralled to almost £1,000 in the months it took him to successfully appeal it.
And he says he is far from alone, knowing other people who have also been handed penalties for the seagulls’ mess.
Thanet District Council can hand ‘offenders’ penalties of £110, reduced to £75 for early payment, but if left unpaid the fines quickly rise.
Mr Hickman, 48, owns Transmission Records in Northdown Road, where residents are supposed to put their bin bags out for collection before 6am on Mondays.
Mr Hickman, who owns a record shop, says he’s not the only one to have been handed a fine due to the mess being made by the birds
Many put them out the night before, meaning they are pecked to smithereens by starving flocks of seagulls.
He said: ‘We are getting penalised for the seagulls in a seaside town, which is ridiculous.
‘On Monday I got the bus from where we live and the rubbish was all the way down the road.
‘People were getting off the bus and stepping around it. Every Monday morning it’s like the apocalypse.
‘We have never been given any form of bag – we were told we couldn’t have bins as there is nowhere to store them.
‘We put the bags out as late as possible but in the summer when it’s really light the seagulls come. We see seagulls pecking them all the time.
‘The council is useless. We have lived here for three years and never been offered a seagull proof bag.’
Kate Harrison set up A Better Cliftonville (ABC), to try and improve the area five years ago.
Litter picker David Hewstone, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for South Thanet Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Spencer Hickman and Harry Scobie say they are sick of thin waste bags being pierced by seagulls
She said the number one priority for residents was litter – and they were sick and tired of being blamed for the eyesore caused by seagulls. They now run litter picks but are still powerless against the seagulls.
‘The problem we have is that we don’t have bins and most of the ones we do have don’t have lids,’ she said.
‘The seagulls wouldn’t get into bins with lids on. The council is doing nothing to sort the problem out.
‘You can’t keep blaming residents for the problems being caused by seagulls. It’s a no-brainer. There aren’t the amenities for people to get rid of waste the way they should.
Margate businesses are blighted by rubbish that residents face being fined up to £1,000 for this mess
‘We don’t want you to fine people. We are asking you to give people the proper facilities to be able to get rid of their waste correctly.’
Another resident wrote online: ‘I feel sorry for the “Down From Londons” who moved to Margate.
‘They were told of this up-and-coming hip arty quirky Shoreditch-on-Sea-like area, and it’s just like London.
‘If the anti social behaviour and the odd murder has not scared them away Northdown Road surely will.’
A spokesman for Thanet District Council claimed residents had been handed seagull-proof bin bags.
‘Thanet District Council was appalled at the state of Northdown Road this Monday,’ he said.
‘The disregard shown for their environment by a minority of residents and businesses is not acceptable – and the council will be taking action.
‘The residential properties along the this stretch of road do not have the physical capacity to store our plastic bins, and have all been provided with “seagull proof bags” to put their waste in.
‘Failure to do this, combined with some businesses feeling that the pavement is an acceptable place to put their commercial waste, has resulted in the large amount of litter seen on Monday morning.’
He said all residential properties in the area would be written ‘to remind them of their responsibilities when putting out their rubbish and the action they could face, should they fail to do so correctly’.
‘We will also be visiting the businesses in the area to inspect their waste storage and collection arrangements,’ he added.
‘Where these fail to meet the required standards businesses will be issued with a penalty notice or charged under the environmental protection action 1990. It’s not every property that is causing the problem, just a minority.’