Agenda Item No. 4

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 16TH JULY, 2018

 

REFERENCE FROM ENVIRONMENT AND REGENERATION SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 14TH JUNE, 2018

 

“           WHITMORE BAY: RESORT CLEANING UPDATE (DEH) –

 

Following introductions all round by the Chairman, the Operational Manager for Neighbourhood Services (Operations) presented the report to the Committee.  The purpose of the report was to inform Committee of the current arrangements for resort cleaning at Whitmore Bay and to apprise Members of the litter issues arising from the May Spring Bank Holiday and the measures that had been implemented to improve cleanliness levels. 

 

The Operational Manager commenced by advising that the Council employed a dedicated resort team that worked annualised hours so they were available six days per week including weekends and Bank Holidays for peak periods.  Additionally a split shift operated across the resort which allowed for staff presence for longer periods of the day to help facilitate public convenience provision and beach hut hire as well providing the necessary litter collection. Beach cleaning was undertaken using a beach surf rake that mechanically collected litter and other debris whilst towed by a tractor. It operated seven days per week from April to September.

Beach litter was collected daily, early in the morning when the beach had the minimum amount of users and to ensure public safety.

 

Whitmore Bay was the Council’s recognised amenity beach and as the Principal Litter Authority, the Council therefore had a statutory duty to clean it within the tidal range.  The Council's statutory duty in respect of cleaning was applicable in the bathing season 1st May to 30th September and during these months the beach should be kept free of litter and refuse.  Outside of the bathing season Committee was informed this was only advisory but it was recognised as good practice.

 

Under Section 89 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which placed a duty on certain bodies (usually Council’s or the Crown in respect of beaches) to ensure that the land for which they were responsible, was kept clear of litter and refuse.

 

To ensure the Council complied with the Act it undertook cleaning during specified times in accordance with the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse and Associated Guidance 2007.  The Code was provided by Welsh Government to relevant bodies and it provided guidance to ensure compliance to the Act, in respect of cleansing. The Code specified cleanliness grades that areas (in this case the beach) must be maintained to and when action was to be taken.

 

Within the guidance it suggested that the Council maintain a Grade B standard as higher grades were understandably difficult and not always achievable especially on beaches.

 

Cleanliness Grades  

Grade A         No Litter or refuse

Grade B+       No more than three 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

 

Over May Spring Bank Holiday, the weather had been particularly warm which had brought an exceptionally high number of visitors to Whitmore Bay.  Although this was seen as positive and encouraging for the area and the resort, a minority of users had left large accumulations of litter on the beach together with other debris strewn across the beach which had affected the Council’s ability to maintain the required cleanliness standard and resulted in adverse publicity for the Council.  Appendix A to the report provided Members with copies of a number of photographs that had been taken in respect of the litter that had been left. 

 

In an attempt to harness the power of the public and seek more permanent solutions to the problems experienced, a Litter Summit had been arranged.  The summit  held on 17th May, 2018  called upon various stakeholders which included the Council’s Managing Director, the Leader of the Council, the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and 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.  Approximately 30 participants had attended, split up on six separate tables which formed the workshop with each group being requested to generate at least one idea under six separate headings – Litter Collection, Waste Disposal, Education, Enforcement, Behaviour and a Bright Idea.

 

All of the participants had actively participated and some innovative ideas had been generated (Appendix B ) as well as some “quick wins” in readiness for the second Bank Holiday at the end of May. Committee was also advised that additionally since the first May Bank Holiday there had been a lot of positive suggestions on social media.  These had been collected and displayed at the “Litter Summit” (summarised in Appendix C and listed Appendix D to the report).

 

The Operational Manager further highlighted that although the weather had not recently been as hot as the Spring Bank Holiday, there had been a high number of visitors to the resort and the “quick wins” that had been implemented as a result of the Litter Summit had assisted significantly.  The measures (“quick wins”) that had been introduced were reported as: 

  • 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. 

Following the presentation of the report, the Chairman asked the member of the public who had registered to speak to make their representation to the Committee. 

 

Mrs. J. Cheek commenced by advising that she was speaking as a resident of the area and had been involved in the Litter Summit.  Mrs Cheek commended the Authority on some of the initiatives that had been undertaken to date but in relation to the new banners that had been placed around the area, stated that the colour scheme used meant visibility was very difficult and urged the Council to redesign the banners and to also consider other areas where they could be placed, for example train stations.  Mrs Cheek also advised of the need for litter bins to be visible on the beach and suggested that banners and signs be placed on the beach together with litter bins.  Mrs Cheek thanked the Operational Manager for the information that a further report was to be prepared for July providing feedback on the Litter Summit.  However, in referring to the grading system for cleanliness of the beaches she considered Grades B and C to be somewhat dramatic and disproportionate..  Reference had also been made at the summit to the use of beach clean boards with Mrs Cheek suggesting that they may be better placed at Bay 2 of the Eastern Shelter.  In referring to the work of volunteers in undertaking litter picking at the resort, she advised of a recent issue where a number of volunteers had been fined for parking on the Island and considered this to be inappropriate when volunteers were giving of their time freely.

 

Another issue that had been raised at the Litter Summit, had been around speaking to local shopkeepers to ask them to consider reducing packaging on products in order to be more environmentally friendly and queried how far this had been looked into.  She also wished to see the reintroduction of water fountains in parks in the Vale and, particularly at the Western Shelter where there was already a water connection available, considering that this would be an important feature for the resort.  Of further note was that one of the beach huts had water availability and queried whether signs could be put up to advise visitors that they could use the water facility in that particular beach hut. 

 

Following Mrs. Cheek’s representations, the Operational Manager in response advised the Committee that beach banner signage had been erected in the short term but that he would look into the issue raised for the longer term.  The Operational Manager also stated that the beach wall was a listed structure and as such it could not be used for signage but he would look into the possibility of using other areas.  He confirmed that capital bids had been placed for additional bins.  With regard to the issuing of fixed penalty notices, he stated that in future should a volunteer group ask to litter pick on the resort, if they contacted him directly he could look into the possibility of providing vouchers for parking.  He was most grateful for the help that was provided and would certainly look into the matter.

 

In referring to the grades of cleanliness, the Operational Manager stated that the Council had to have a way of assessing standards as resources were finite.  With specific reference to water stations, the manager advised that the Council was currently looking into this aspect. With regard to a ban on polystyrene, inroads had been made with traders, although the Council was unable to force a ban they would continue to raise awareness.

 

Councillor N.P. Hodges, not a Member of the Committee but granted permission to speak, advised that he had enjoyed the Litter Summit which he considered had been very successful and was staggered by the statistics in respect of the amount of litter that was being left behind.  He was of the firm view that education was key and raising awareness was imperative.  He was also fully supportive of the installation of water stations and in referring to Barry Cemetery, advised that this had been classed as contaminated land but that Barry Town Council was currently looking into the matter for the future.  A number of Members concurred that it was key to raise awareness with the public and important to educate all visitors of the need to ensure that litter was placed in appropriate receptacles or indeed taken away. 

 

Members congratulated the department on the work that had been undertaken to date and in particular took the opportunity to thank the volunteers who had taken their own time and effort to make resort and Barry Island a nice place to live and visit. 

 

In referring specifically to litter fines the Operational Manager advised that there were difficulties in the process as the enforcement officer had to see the person leave the litter before they could fine them.  The pictures that had been presented in the report were considered to be useful with the suggestion that they could be utilised  to undertake a publicity drive with the possibility of placing copies on social media to advise people of the litter problems that are left when visitors come to Barry Island and other resorts in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Following a query as to whether the Department could clean the beach in the evening as well as in the morning, the Operational Manager advised that this was undertaken before 6.00am for health and safety reasons due to the number of visitors attending in the day. 

 

Having regard to advertising and raising awareness campaigns , a Member asked whether it would be possible to contact Welsh Government and ask them to undertake a campaign very similar to the ones that had been done some time ago on national television with public information films being developed to raise awareness.  The Member also asked if there were similar issues in other areas. The Operational Manager in response advised that there were similar issues, in particular at Cosmeston but these related to the use of portable barbeques.  The Operational Manager stated that to try to alleviate the situation at peak times, for example, school holidays and Bank Holidays, the department would consider placing more bins in the areas with more regular collection times.

 

Following a further query regarding Wi-Fi on the Island, the Operational Manager advised that the Tourism Team were currently looking into this aspect.

 

Following a query as to whether the Council used community service personnel to assist with litter picking they were informed that the Probation Service and Youth Offending Teams were used on a regular basis for clearing fly tipping, but that in the main it was volunteers for litter picking.  A further suggestion that cleaning of the beaches take place on a Friday prior to the weekend, the Operational Manager agreed to look into this with the Supervisor. 

 

In conclusion a Member stated that it was important for the Council to protect the image of Barry Island as a platinum resort and that the Council could not afford for the image to be tarnished. 

 

Following the above frank discussion, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Chairman write to the new franchise holder of the railway lines regarding the extent of litter in and around train stations, with a copy of the letter also being sent to the Environment Minister stressing the importance of litter collection.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to provide an update on the installation of water fountains in and around the Vale and in particular at seaside locations.

 

(3)       T H A T Cabinet be recommended to consider that where there is a pre-organised litter picking arrangement, that volunteers be provided with vouchers to ensure that they do not receive any parking fines. 

 

(4)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider a hard hitting approach for a public campaign to raise awareness of the issues of litter.

 

Reasons for Recommendations

 

(1)       To seek assistance and co-operation with regard to the issue of litter in and around the Vale.

 

(2)       For public use.

 

(3)       As a gesture of goodwill to the volunteers in undertaking litter picking.

 

(4)       To raise awareness.”

 

 

 

Attached as Appendix – Report to Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee: 14th June, 2018