‘Let people sit in their own filth’ - Sidmouth Plastic Warriors suspend beach cleaning

Denise Bickley at one of her beach cleaning sessions. Ref shs 02 19TI 7819. Picture: Terry Ife

Denise Bickley at one of her beach cleaning sessions. Ref shs 02 19TI 7819. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Plastic Warriors are suspending their beach clean-ups until mid-July to send a strong message to those who, they say, are treating the seashore ‘like an anarchic playground’ and leaving it covered in waste.

The group has also issued a call to action for other organisations to help it explore solutions to the problem of waste being dumped on beaches and public areas, which has been happening in visitor destinations around the country as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Leader Denise Bickley said: “If people find our beach covered in rubbish they won’t come back. If they experience antisocial behaviour until late in the night, they won’t come back.

“Businesses will close because of the effects of easing lockdown, at a time when they need all the help we can give.

“It will affect all, if the worst happens and many of the town’s residents find themselves out of work.

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“Sidmouth Plastic Warriors was set up to help highlight marine waste, microplastics, harm to marine wildlife and changing behaviour, through doing regular beach cleans and school talks, and as a means of uniting those of us who care. We are all passionate about the sea, the beach and our planet.

“It was not set up to clean up after people who are treating our beach like an anarchic playground.

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“At the moment we can’t even do big clean-ups because of social distancing, but our great volunteers have been doing as much as they can on their own.

“But I repeat it is not our job or desire to just clean up after people.”

She said the council could not be expected to deal with the huge increase in waste, at a time when budgets are stretched to breaking point.

“I’m not here to defend councils but I understand more of the issues facing them now. Streetscene have been doing an amazing job coping with the huge amounts of residential waste lockdown created.

“Let people sit in their own filth, let people realize that breaking glass or burying barbecues on the beach is a terrible idea, let other people deal with discarded masks and tissues.

“During this period of inactivity we would like to bring together our community groups, sports teams, pubs, restaurants and businesses, indeed any organisation who wants to work together, maybe organise a virtual meeting, to come up with solutions that will help our town prosper, our visitors to learn how we work, and our young people to see what a difference we can all make when working together.

“First simple idea; if the supermarkets could stop selling disposable barbecues we’d be grateful, as they are the single most destructive and dangerous things we pick up; followed in close joint second by plastic bottles/lids and tomato sauce sachets from takeaways.

”We need to be a united force, all working together with the same message – survival. It is only by actively working together that we will beat this threat to our town, and come up with solutions for a successful way forward.”

Anyone interested in getting involved is asked to email info@sidmouthplasticwarriors.org for more information.

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