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Beach safety and cleanliness will be an issue as lockdown lifts, warn Greens representing city’s seafront

Concerns over potential rise in visitor numbers as warm weather forecast for May bank holiday weekend

Green Councillors representing city-centre seafront wards have raised concerns over the use of the beach, in anticipation of an increase in visitors this bank holiday weekend.

Local ward councillors for Brunswick and Adelaide have also stressed that an influx of visitors could lead to more litter piling up on the beach, risking potential damage to local marine life.

Referring to a recent ward tidy up, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said that litter in the area has already begun to increase as lockdown restrictions have changed.

Greens say further planning may also need to be in place to manage anti-social behaviour on the seafront, as restaurants and bars serving customers alcohol remain closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Stressing the need to support safe social distancing, prevent the spread of Covid19 and minimise a pile up of waste, Greens say a number of proactive measures could be explored by councillors of all parties in order to protect both residents and the environment.

Phélim Mac Cafferty, Green Councillor for Brunswick and Adelaide ward, said:

“As lockdown lifts and the weather warms, but without the venues for eating and drinking, use of our green spaces and beach is increasing. But we don’t yet have the measures in place that allow people to do so safely and in environmentally responsible ways. A perfect storm is brewing and we need to move quickly to have a strong response in place to protect our precious marine life.”

“On top of this, Green councillors for Queens Park, Regency and Brunswick and Adelaide are seeing an increase in correspondence from residents concerned about plastic waste and litter being left on our beach, and the impact this has on our marine life. Surfers Against Sewage have documented litter levels on the beach during lockdown – and in the last few days – which reaffirms this. We know too that further to a Green call for action, the City Council has pledged to tackle single-use plastic waste and this must apply now more than ever as the city is recovering. We now need to remember the damage plastics can make: a plastic straw – used just once before being thrown away – can take up to 600 years to degrade.

“Working cross-party, and with marine organisations in the city, we believe there are some really proactive steps our council can take now to safeguard our residents battling Covid-19 and to take care of our beach, so that it can be enjoyed by all in weeks and months to come. This could include stronger messages, greater liaison with Sussex Police, reminding seafront businesses that plastics should be avoided, using our fining powers more to prevent littering, rapid installation of more bins, providing more tools to local community representatives with safe tidy-ups, and putting out more signage about fixed penalty notices for littering.

“Once again, as we work hard to bring down Covid-19, Greens also want to ensure that residents are not bounced from this health crisis straight into a worsening environmental crisis, too.” 

Clare Rainey, Green Councillor for Queens Park ward, added:

“Residents in Brighton and Hove, especially those living with only limited or no outside space at home, have really valued the open space we have in the city, such as the seafront, during lockdown.

“It is critical for residents’ health and well-being that the seafront can be used safely by everyone and does not become a stressful experience due to overcrowding and lack of attention to social distancing. Despite changes to government guidelines we ask people to continue to be mindful of social distancing, and to use our open spaces responsibly in terms of litter which is particularly damaging in a marine environment.

“Although Brighton and Hove generally welcomes all visitors, who help to make the city the vibrant and diverse place that it is, due to this unprecedented situation the health and well-being of residents and visitors alike currently needs to be the priority.”

Tom Druitt, Green Councillor for Regency ward, added:

“As lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted it’s understandable that people want to get out and about again and enjoy a day at the seaside, and after such a long period being holed up in our houses it’s something we can all empathise with. However our priority has to be to ensure the beach is safe, and we respectfully ask all those planning to travel to Brighton & Hove this weekend to leave it till later in the year when it is safer to do so. 

“Many council services are not yet fully operational, and litter on the beach especially is both an environmental tragedy, as it gets washed into the sea; and a health hazard to others as the virus can stay on the surface of discarded waste for days. We would love to welcome people back to our city as soon as it is safe to do so, but now is not that time.”

Greens are also urging the public to follow the Surfers Against Sewage ‘Socially Responsible Beach Guide.’ https://www.sas.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/The-Socially-Responsible-Beach-Guide.pdf

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