Hi-tech bins are a load of...

The district council's 'big belly' bins overflowed on Sidmouth seafront during the bank holiday week

The district council's 'big belly' bins overflowed on Sidmouth seafront during the bank holiday weekend. Picture: Ian Hosker - Credit: Archant

An apology has been issued after a ‘misunderstanding with staff rotas’ over the Easter bank holiday left Sidmouth seafront blighted with litter.


Blue skies and a high number of visitors during the long weekend meant that one of the district council’s waste compacting ‘big belly’ bins filled up.

But a refuse run scheduled for bank holiday Monday did not take place, leaving overflowing takeaway packaging, plastic bags and drinks containers blowing across The Esplanade.

Sidmouth resident Ian Hosker witnessed the aftermath just after 8am on Tuesday.

He said: “[The bank holiday] was very sunny and warm, so Sidmouth was a magnet.

“Good for the town, but these bins are incapable of coping with this volume.

“What made the decision-maker believe that they would cope in the absence of additional bins to cope with bank holidays, which are always busy?

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“Yes, there were crowds, but there are always crowds, and in the past there were ranks of bins.”

He said the scene showed just some of the ‘mountain’ of rubbish that had been piled up next to the bins on Monday.

Mr Hosker added: “Gulls have distributed the ‘mountain’, so there is no telling how much polystyrene and plastic bags are now in the sea, with consequences for marine life.”

“While the majority of businesses in Sidmouth had a fabulous weekend’s trade, I do not think that the majority of residents would like to see this picture,” said Steve Clarke, from the nearby Rendezvous restaurant.

“Could you imagine if you saw this on the internet, and you were thinking of a holiday in Sidmouth? Would you still come? Bring back the old bin system or get them emptied more often.”

He added: “It’s two times in as many years this problem’s turned up on the bank holiday weekend. This time it seems to have got worse.

“I spoke to a councillor and he said there’s no excuse for it – it’s disgraceful.

“People spend £300-a-night to stay in those seafront hotels. It doesn’t set a good example.”

The high-tech refuse receptacles, which boast a capacity eight-times that of a wheelie bin, were installed as an environmentally friendly cost-saving measure by East Devon District Council (EDDC) in June last year.

A council spokesman said that had Monday’s bin run gone ahead as scheduled, the problem would have been avoided.

He added: “A misunderstanding with our staff rotas meant that the evening bin run programmed for the bank holiday Monday did not take place.

“This, coupled with a bank holiday busier than FolkWeek, led to one overflowing bin and litter issues around two other bins and along Sidmouth’s promenade.

“We pride ourselves on keeping East Devon an outstanding place to live and visit and we recognise that we slipped below our own high standards on this occasion.

“We cleared up the mess first thing on Tuesday morning and are taking steps to ensure this kind of slip does not happen again.”