Agenda Item No 4

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee: 14th June 2018

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing Services

 

Whitmore Bay: Resort Cleaning Update

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To inform Committee of the current arrangements for resort cleaning at Whitmore Bay.
  2. To inform Committee of the litter issues arising from May spring bank holiday and the measures implemented to improve cleanliness levels.

Recommendations

  1. That the Committee consider the details of the report.
  2. That Committee note the measures implemented to improve cleanliness at peak times across the resort.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To ensure that the Committee is aware of the current infrastructure for resort cleansing. 
  2. To ensure that the Committee has an opportunity to comment and contribute to the new measures proposed in respect of resort cleansing. 

Background

  1. At present the maintenance of Whitmore Bay and other beaches is part of the Neighbourhood Services & Transport team. There is a dedicated resort team specifically assigned to Barry beaches all year round.
  2. During particularly hot days and bank holidays there is a significant increase in visitor numbers to Whitmore Bay which reduces the Council's ability to maintain general cleanliness standards to a satisfactory level.
  3. Over the May spring bank holiday the weather was particularly warm which brought an exceptionally high number of visitors to Whitmore Bay. Although this is positive and encouraging a minority using the beach left large accumulations of litter and other debris strewn across the beach (Appendix A) which affected our ability to maintain the required cleanliness standard and it also resulted in adverse publicity.
  4. As well as discarded litter and other waste, several bins on the resort were overflowing which provided a negative perception of the resort.
  5. Although across media channels the blame was attributed to a minority that had behaved irresponsibly, it was clear that further action was required and this prompted officers setting up a "Litter Summit".  A meeting involving a wide range of interested parties where ideas could be generated about how to improve matters for the future.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. To set the scene, the Council employs a dedicated resort team that work annualised hours so they are available 6-days per week including weekends and bank holidays for peak periods mainly the beginning of April to the end of September annually.
  2. Additionally a split shift operates so a staffed presence exists across the resort for longer periods of the day to help facilitate public convenience provision and beach hut hire as well providing the necessary litter collection.   
  3. Beach cleaning is undertaken using a beach surf rake that mechanically collects litter and other debris whilst towed by a tractor. It operates 7-days per week from April to September.
  4. Beach litter is collected daily, early in the morning when the beach has the minimum amount of users and to ensure public safety.
  5. Other support provided to the team is the utilisation of a large mechanical road sweeper provided from the Councils Street Cleansing Service. Again this operates 7-days per week from April through to September.
  6. The beach at Whitmore Bay is a designated bathing beach and an amenity beach. A coastal location that has a high number of bathers has a "designated" classification; this means that Natural Resources Wales takes responsibility for measuring the water quality to ensure public safety. A beach that attracts a substantial number of bathers or where large amounts of beach users congregate has this "amenity beach" classification.
  7. Whitmore bay is the Council's recognised amenity beach and as the Principal Litter Authority, the Council therefore has a statutory duty to clean it within the tidal range.
  8. The Council's statutory duty in respect of cleaning is applicable in the bathing season 1st May to 30th September. During these months the beach should be kept free of litter and refuse. Outside of the bathing season it is only advisory but recognised as good practice. 
  9. The Council has a duty under Section 89 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which places a duty on certain bodies (usually Council's or the Crown in respect of beaches) to ensure that the land for which they are responsible, is kept clear of litter and refuse.
  10. To ensure the Council complies with the Act it undertakes cleaning during specified times in accordance with the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse and Associated Guidance 2007. The code is provided by Welsh Government to relevant bodies and it provides guidance to ensure compliance to the Act, in respect of cleansing. The Code specifies cleanliness grades that areas (in this case the beach) must be maintained to and when action is to be taken.
  11. Within the guidance it suggests that the Council maintains a Grade B standard as higher grades are understandably difficult and not always achievable especially on beaches.

Cleanliness Grades  

Grade A         No Litter or refuse

Grade B+       No more than 3 items of litter

Grade B         Predominately free of litter and refuse apart from some small items

Grade C        Widespread distribution of litter and/or refuse with minor accumulations     

Grade D        Heavily affected by litter and/or refuse with significant accumulations

  1. Under these circumstances the Code provides response times which prioritise certain areas. If cleanliness grades are not maintained then the standard response is, in a high intensity of use, a half day. This means by 6pm if reported before 1pm or by 1pm the next duty day if reported between 1pm and 6pm. Cleansing response times work between 08:00 and 18:00.
  2. Generally the level of resources attributed to the resort are sufficient to maintain and achieve an acceptable level of cleanliness but on hot days on bank holidays and summer half terms, this can be particularly challenging.
  3. There have been actions relating to adverse publicity in the past that has asked a minority to take more responsibility for their waste but unfortunately it has not been sufficient on very hot days.
  4. In an attempt to harness the power of the public and seek more permanent solutions to the problems experienced a Litter Summit was arranged.  The summit was held on 17th May 2018 and called upon various stakeholders that included the Council's Managing Director, the Leader of the Council, the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services & Transport, local members, Council staff, local litter picking groups/volunteers, traders, emergency services including the RNLI and members of the public passionate about the environment.
  5. There were approximately 30 participants split up on 6 separate tables that formed the workshop and each group were requested to generate at least one idea under 6 separate headings: - Litter Collection, Waste Disposal, Education, Enforcement, Behaviour and a Bright Idea.
  6. All of the participants actively participated and some innovative ideas were generated (Appendix B) as well as some "quick wins" in readiness for the second bank holiday at the end of May.
  7. Additionally since the first May bank holiday there had been a lot of positive suggestions on social media. These were all collected and noted and displayed at the "Litter Summit" (summarised Appendix C and listed Appendix D).
  8. Although the weather was not as hot as the Spring Bank Holiday, there was as expected, a high number of visitors to the resort. The "quick wins" that were implemented as a result of the "Litter Summit" assisted significantly with this.
  9. Measures introduced ("quick wins")
  •  Visitors were greeted with before and after images (Appendix E) showing the cleanliness of the beach at the start and at the end of the early May bank holiday.
  • Extra wheeled bins were in place at key access points to the beach and along the promenade.
  • A refuse vehicle was stationed at Neil's Point car park which reduced the need to transport waste off the resort and minimise any potential down time.
  • Tannoy announcements were made to remind visitors to use the 100+ bins on the resort.
  • Staff numbers were increased later in the day to help collect discarded waste and litter on the beach.
  • Volunteers and local members of the public were invited to assist with litter removal. 
  1. Although it cannot be accurately calculated, there was a significant decrease in the amount of litter left on the beach on the second May bank holiday, so the "quick wins" had an effect. Additionally the work of volunteers should not go unrecognised and their support going forward will be essential to ensure measures are sustainable.   
  2. With the "quick wins" now implemented the Neighbourhood Services Team is continuing to investigate the viability of the other suggestions made at the "Litter Summit" and it is then the intension to provide a feedback session before the main school summer holidays.
  3. The team see community engagement as an essential and sustainable way forward, as the Council may not always have the resources available to maintain the required standards if we experience long periods of hot weather. During these times there is also an impact on standards on other popular areas across the Vale such as Penarth and Ogmore beaches and at country parks such as Porthkerry and Cosmeston.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There will be a requirement to closely manage expenditure if there is a sustained amount of hot weather over the main summer months. 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The implementation of these measures will have a positive impact on preventing discarded waste entering the ocean and robust management will improve the quality of the local environment.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Councils responsibilities under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990) for the removal of litter and refuse are noted in the report and the Council has powers to act under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (ABCPA 2014) for the enforcement of environmental offences.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The provision of positive communication and strong enforcement action should act as a deterrent to others from committing offences and aim to reduce similar environmental crimes across the Vale of Glamorgan and eventually have a positive impact on the local environment quality. 

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no equal opportunity implications as a result of this report.  

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. This report links to the Corporate Plan and Well Being Outcome W02: An Environmentally Responsible and Prosperous Wales and the relevant Objective is O4 "Promoting Sustainable development and protecting our environment".
  2. The Visible Services and Transport Service Plan (2018 to 2022) reference ER13 seeks to deliver a coordinated approach to managing Barry Island (2018/19). Additionally ER19 is an objective to achieve four National Beach Awards in recognition of the high standard of cleanliness, good facilities and attractiveness of our beaches (2018/19).

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is within the policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The Cabinet member for Neighbourhood Services & Transport, Local Members and key stakeholders were invited to participate in the "Litter Summit" workshop. Additionally, all members across the Council were advised of the event taking place and social media was used to invite and inform members of the public about the event.

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Colin Smith - Operational Manager for Neighbourhood Services [Operations]

Officers Consulted

Accountant - Neighbourhood Services and Transport

Legal Services

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services