ModernGov

Agenda item

Questions from the public

This session is limited to 30 minutes.

 

 

1.    From Ms A Dakin to Councillor Monk, Leader of the Council

 

Why was ground clearance work, including the removal of trees and shrubs, undertaken at Princes Parade during nesting season, in clear contravention of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and who was responsible for this decision?

 

2.    From Ms M Lawes to Councillor Peall, Cabinet Member for Enforcement, Regulatory Services, Waste & Building control

 

What planning and preparedness has this council put in place to address the issues that occurred last spring/summer (to include damage to coastal park, parking issues, insufficient toilets in beach areas of the district, lack of bins, residents blocked from getting in & out of The Stade, lack of bin collections, harm to the Warren, coach loads turning up to party on our beaches etc), to ensure this does not harm our coastal areas this spring/summer?

 

Minutes:

 

1.    From Ms A Dakin to Councillor Monk, Leader of the Council

 

Why was ground clearance work, including the removal of trees and shrubs, undertaken at Princes Parade during nesting season, in clear contravention of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and who was responsible for this decision?

 

ANSWER:

 

Thank you for your question Ms Dakin.

 

All ground clearance works for the whole project are undertaken not only by using our in-house qualified staff, but also by using independent ecological consultants- Lloyd Bore consultancy.  They have been appointed to provide an independent overview of the ecological aspects of the project and ensure the appropriate measures are in place and that the council acts legally and in line with the overall ecology plan.  The consultants have overseen and have had full view of all the works undertaken and have not identified any contravention of the above act mentioned.  I do also have to say that our staff are fully aware of the Act and are suitably qualified to ensure that all measures are in place to avoid harm to any nesting birds.

 

I am also aware that separately representations have been made to the police about breaching the above Act.  The police have responded that as far as they are concerned the Council have undertaken appropriate due diligence and that there is no indication of any criminal offence having taken place.

 

In summary, the Council has been responsible in carrying out its responsibilities and I reject your assertion that we have acted in contravention of the law.

 

 

2.    From Ms M Lawes to Councillor Peall, Cabinet Member for Enforcement, Regulatory Services, Waste & Building control

 

What planning and preparedness has this council put in place to address the issues that occurred last spring/summer (to include damage to coastal park, parking issues, insufficient toilets in beach areas of the district, lack of bins, residents blocked from getting in & out of The Stade, lack of bin collections, harm to the Warren, coach loads turning up to party on our beaches etc), to ensure this does not harm our coastal areas this spring/summer?

         

ANSWER:

         

Thank you for your question Ms Lawes.

 

Last summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic the District experienced a massive increase in visits from tourists and higher use from residents across all of our parks, open spaces and beaches. Officers worked tirelessly throughout the summer to address the issues as they arose and to try to pre-empt what the next behaviour change would be. Particular issues arose in our key coastal spaces such as the Warren, the Coastal Park, Sunny Sands (The Stade) and the popular beaches on the Marsh such as at Greatstone, Littlestone, Dymchurch and St Mary’s Bay.

 

In anticipation once again of the expected larger than normal visitor numbers officers have been working as a cross organisation group to discuss lessons learnt, and the steps that will be put in place for this summer to minimise disruption for our residents across the District.

 

The Warren experienced vast visitor numbers and FHDC has been working with the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership to address issues that have occurred. This includes additional large capacity bins to cope with the extra rubbish and to support the clean-up initiatives in the area.

 

The Coastal Park and beach front were inundated with visitors. ASB such as littering and parking violations were common issues and– after the success of last year’s ban all BBQ’s will continue to be banned and the rules put in place will remain.  The parks internal car park will continue to be closed between the hours of 8pm and 8am. This will prevent overnight parking and reduce late night ASB. Signage prior to Radnor Cliff Road will once again aim to divert visitors to the larger town centre and harbour car parks. Park keepers will be operating 7 days a week to educate visitors and ensure the park is clean. The new large capacity 1100 litre bins and the existing big belly compactor bins should help alleviate some of the littering issues. 

 

With the Stade, Sunny Sands and the Harbour Arm growing ever more popular visitor numbers were very high, often overwhelming the small parking area that is found here. Discussions have been ongoing with the harbour company who have committed to opening the harbour arm car park 24/7 and the overflow car park which can serve both the harbour area and the coastal park at weekends and bank holidays. The harbour company are open to further discussion if capacity is reached outside of these times.

 

FHDC Grounds Maintenance, Enforcement and Parking Teams will continue to work together with the wider Community Safety Partnership to have a coordinated and targeted response to issues as and when they arise.

 

In terms of litter bin capacity, the council already has over 820 litter bins installed across the district, of which 357 are along the coast and nearby high streets. In addition, the council will as in previous years be installing extra capacity bulk bins at popular locations like Sunny Sands, Sandgate Promenade and Dymchurch. Last year, we added to these as the season progressed and we will do the same this year if needed. These extra bulk bins have already been installed in anticipation of the Easter weekend. Veolia are in the process of moving street cleansing staff onto a more flexible rota so more staff can be available to meet seasonal demands notably over the weekends. In previous years there have been times when gaining vehicle access to areas has been difficult due to the sheer number of visitors. This year, Veolia will be making use of electric Bradshaw carts and bulking points to work around crowded areas.

 

Finally, in response to the comment about coaches turning up for beach parties. The difficulty we face is that party organisers are unlikely to engage with the Council before the event so realistically the first we may know of an illegal event is on the day. We are working with police to share intelligence with nearby forces about potential events and our stance is that we will expect the police to take appropriate action if illegal events occur and as a council will use any legal means before an event to dissuade an organiser or after an event to recover costs or impose fines.