Whitstable residents fear gull problems as council trades black trash cans for purple bags

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Residents are “outraged” by a council’s decision to replace black trash cans with purple trash bags and open boxes.

Those who live on Victoria Street in Whitstable fear the move “will produce huge pest problems” by attracting seagulls and vermin.

City council says it is implementing the change following a complaint about the smell of garbage cans in the area.

A letter sent to residents indicates that as of December 6, bins are to be left on Victoria Street for collection instead of St Peter’s Road where they are currently left.

He adds: “Since there is no sidewalk space for garbage cans, your garbage containers will be changed from garbage cans to purple bags and recycling boxes.”

But many believe the move will bring seagulls, mice and rats to the area.

Video taken on Victoria Street yesterday shows seagulls swarming around a purple bag – which is already in use by some residents – and spilling its contents on the road.

Seagulls tear up a purple garbage bag on Victoria Street. Photo: Derek Drennan

Derek Drennan, 41, worries that the switch to purple garbage bags “will make the seagull problem worse, no longer attract vermin and create damage.”

“The local residents of Victoria Street are in turmoil,” he said.

“We are shocked that the council thinks this was a good idea.

“Our street is desperately unhappy as this is going to cause us huge pest and garbage problems, which is already evident across Whitstable where this has been implemented.”

Mr Drennan has now launched a petition calling on the council to reconsider its decision, which has already garnered more than 70 signatures.

Among other residents concerned about the plans is Anita Rule.

Anita Rule, a resident of Victoria Street.  Image: KMTV
Anita Rule, a resident of Victoria Street. Image: KMTV

“The whole street is going to look messy every week, and in the summer it’s going to get worse,” she said.

“You can’t plan when the trash is going to be collected, so basically the seagulls will come and tear up the trash cans and you have to clean them up.

“If the bag is torn, [waste collectors] will not take it. So what are we supposed to do then? “

Meanwhile, she fears that recycling boxes left on the sidewalk could cause problems for people in strollers or wheelchairs, while passers-by could drop non-recyclable waste in them and contaminate the collection.

Labor city councilor Chris Cornell called the move to purple bags a “harsh response from the council”.

Canterbury City Councilor Chris Cornell (Lab).  Image: KMTV
Canterbury City Councilor Chris Cornell (Lab). Image: KMTV

“Picking up trash here in the conservation area is always a problem,” he said. “The roads are small, it is difficult to move trucks and there are problems with garbage cans blocking the streets.

“But the council should have gone out, talked to the residents, talked to the local councilors about the nature of the problem and we could have suggested alternatives, rather than just annoying people by sending them a letter.

“What we really need is some kind of longer-term systemic review of the problem. We have to find a way to either secrete them better off-road or look at the garbage stores.”

Cllr Cornell says he thinks the introduction of “gull-proof” burlap bags might help solve the problem.

“The solution they come up with, which is to put everyone in purple bags, doesn’t really solve the problem, it just creates more,” he said.

Canterbury City Council has been approached for comment.

Visit the petition page here.

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