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Guidance on extension of construction site working hours

Guidance on extension of construction site working hours

On Wednesday 13 May 2020, the government published a written ministerial statement on planning and construction working hours.

This statement expects local planning authorities to approve requests to extend construction working hours temporarily to ensure safe working in line with social distancing guidelines from 8am until 9pm, Monday to Saturday, unless there are very compelling reasons against this. Sundays and Bank Holidays remain as non-working days.

We understand that extended construction hours may have an impact on nearby residents. More so than ever before, people are in their homes and we have seen an increase in the number of construction site nuisance complaints.

In line with government advice, we are asking contractors to be considerate of their neighbours and would like to thank residents for their patience during these unusual times. Our Environmental Health team is working with developers to ensure that every effort is made to minimise and control noise.

Operators of construction sites will:

  • Email requests to extend construction times outside of those identified in a planning condition to our Planning Enforcement team
  • Give neighbours who may be affected by particular work at least 48 hours’ notice.
  • Make sure that particularly noisy work is carried out within normal working hours.
  • Choose the quietest suitable equipment, keep it properly maintained and follow safe working practices (i.e. follow Best Practicable Means – BPM).
  • Tell any subcontractors to follow agreed guidelines on noise, dust and other matters.
  • Not allow workers to use radios on the site if this could cause a disturbance.
  • Avoid the need to park on the street by providing on-site parking wherever possible.
  • Keep the public roads and footpaths clean and tidy.

 

Residents should:

  • Report any problem by filling in an online form or by calling 01843 577580.
  • Keep a noise nuisance diary if the problem is not resolved straight away. 

The council’s first action is always to discuss the situation with the site operators. While the council will step in to take enforcement action where appropriate, we often find that they are unaware of the problems they may be causing. Once it is brought to their attention, they tend to cooperate in taking action to deal with the matter.

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Toilets to open at four sites

Toilets to open at four sites

From Saturday 23 May, toilets at the following locations will be open:

  • Joss Bay;
  • Margate Main Sands (Buenos Ayres/TS Eliot);
  • Viking Bay (Harbour Street);
  • Ramsgate (near Wetherspoons).

They will be open to the public from 10am to 5pm, daily, including disabled facilities which will be accessible with a RADAR key.

Cllr Steve Albon, Cabinet Member for Operational Services said:

“Following the shift in the Government’s lockdown restrictions to allow people to spend more time outside, we have been working to find a safe solution for the reopening of some of our public toilets. 

“We recognise that people are choosing to make the most of the new guidelines but we want to reiterate that they must do so safely and respectfully. At the beaches where there aren’t any open toilets, using the surrounding area is totally unacceptable. We are doing all we can to offer some provision on our main beaches initially and ask that people plan ahead.

“Where toilets are open, there will be a number of measures in place to provide a clean and safe environment for people using them. They will be signposted with information on maintaining social distancing, a request to keep cubicles clean and hand washing instructions.

“We will be relying on members of the public to respect the space and to act in a responsible way so that everyone who needs to use the facilities is able to do so as safely as possible.

“The toilets will be cleaned by council staff regularly throughout the day and will be closed while cleaning takes place. 

“If members of the public are abusive to our staff, use offensive language or fail to respect the social distancing guidelines when interacting with them, the crew will close the facilities. Being abused by the public isn’t part of the job.

“As well as using the toilets provided, we also want to remind beachgoers that they must take their litter off the beach to a bin, or if the bin is full home. While people were required to stay at home during lockdown, the volume of litter on the beaches was close to zero. It is deeply disappointing that after just a few days of additional freedoms people are dumping rubbish on the beach where it will end up in the sea.

“As always, these are the actions of a small minority of people. We appreciate that the vast majority of our residents and visitors do respect the rules and behave in a way that helps to protect our beautiful coastline.”

 

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Statement on grass-cutting

Statement on grass-cutting

Cllr Steve Albon, Cabinet Member for Operational Services comments on recent grass-cutting in Thanet. He said:

“There is always a balancing act in relation to grass-cutting as some residents want grass cut regularly whilst others would like to see it left longer to attract wildlife. We have been working with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and now have two sites (Sunken Gardens in Westbrook and Foreness Point at Palm Bay) in Thanet which are cut less throughout the year to encourage wild flowers and bees.  

“Grass-cutting has been reduced for most of the lockdown period, however some of our sites are now becoming substantially overgrown which will mean they will soon be too long for our grass strimmers, tractors and mowers. Not managing the grass, especially at this time of year, would also require us to hire specialist equipment to tackle overgrown areas which would then come at an additional expense to the council. It’s also important to ensure overgrown grass does not pose an unnecessary risk to health and safety as longer grass can make it difficult to spot things you’re walking through, such as broken glass or dog faeces. This is especially important in areas close to playgrounds.”

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Statement on open spaces in Thanet

Statement on open spaces in Thanet

On Sunday (10 May) the Government outlined some changes to the restrictions in place around lockdown. This means that members of the public can now exercise outside as often as they wish.

People can also sit and rest outside and can drive to outdoor publicly accessible open spaces irrespective of distance.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Rick Everitt said:

“The change in Government guidance means that more people are likely to be out enjoying Thanet’s parks, open spaces and beaches. 

“Whilst the Government has said that people can visit open spaces, it is important that everyone continues to act responsibly. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, we must  all follow the national guidance by staying two metres away from those not in their household.

“We also need residents and visitors using these public places to be aware that there will not be the usual access to amenities. We have been looking at how we can re-open public toilets and ensure public safety. Our toilets are currently closed but the government guidance issued yesterday is helpful and will inform our plans to open some of these facilities from next weekend (23/24 May).

“We will continue to review the Government guidance as this evolves and ensure that people are kept informed. As part of this, signage will be displayed in key locations around our coast.

“I’d like to thank the majority of people who are acting in a considerate and responsible way and would urge everyone to ensure that this continues.”

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Opinion: Preventing the rise of fly-tipping

Opinion: Preventing the rise of fly-tipping

Cllr Steve Albon, Cabinet Member for Operational Services, shares his opinion on preventing the rise of fly-tipping during lockdown and beyond.

Staying home these last eight weeks may have given residents the opportunity to think about their garden and home makeovers, but where is some of this makeover waste going? Whilst the vast majority of residents have behaved responsibly and not dumped their waste during the coronavirus outbreak, some people have not done the right thing. As a result, a lot of waste has made its way onto the streets, roads, alley-ways and pavements of  Thanet. In April 2019, there were 199 reported fly-tips compared to April 2020 which saw 304. 

Here are some of the recent fly-tips cleared up by the council’s hard-working cleansing teams:





Residents can report fly-tipping using this online form.

As Cabinet Member for Operational Services, I am asking people to try and limit spring cleaning and to try and reduce the amount of waste your household produces.

There’s nothing wrong with a spring makeover while you have the time to do it. However, it’s what you then do with the extra waste which is vitally important. Fly-tipping is illegal and can lead to a £400 fixed penalty notice or a criminal prosecution. Investigating and then clearing fly-tips cost the council £175,000 last year and this diverts resources away from keeping the rest of the district clean, including emptying litter bins, which we know is something that people really care about.”

For those who are unsure how to dispose of waste responsibly and want to avoid hefty fines and court cases, the council has the following tips: 

  • Use a registered kerbside collection service and keep a dated record of use
  • Only use a licenced waste carrier and do a quick check on the Environment Agency website www.GOV.UK to find a licenced waste carrier. A legitimate waste operator will be happy to show you their licence. Be suspicious and wary of anyone who will only take cash payments or who advertises on social media sites
  • Book bulky waste collection – a council run service –  by calling 01843 577115 https://www.thanet.gov.uk/online-services/bulky-waste-collection/
  • On Friday 15 May, Kent County Council is reopening the Household Waste and Recycling Centres in Margate. This will only be accessible to those who have a pre-booked appointment, made online or over the phone. Find out about how to book a slot on KCC’s website.
  • Check which local charities will collect items that can be reused, upcycled and resold. British Heart Foundation www.bhf.org.uk, British Red Cross www.redcross.org.uk, Cancer Research UK www.cancerresearchuk.org and Shelter www.england.shelter.org.uk.

As the weather improves, those who are lucky enough to have a garden will spend more time outside. The Royal Horticultural Society has given the following advice:

  • Use a compost bin, make a compost heap from plant materials and kitchen waste that won’t attract rats
  • Avoid bonfires
  • Bury soft garden waste when digging over empty plots
  • Leave woody prunings in a safe, neat pile out the way in your garden for wildlife to use
  • Use grass cutting to mulch around trees and plants, or cut short and leave clippings to disappear back into the grass.

If you have the space, you could let a mini meadow grow, and sit back and watch the wildlife enjoy your garden. You can even make a record of the visiting wildlife. For those of you with children at home, you could try and make or buy a wormery. As part of a renewed interest in composting, we have identified a supplier that sells composters and is offering their product to residents at a discount. If you are interested in how you can compost your food and garden waste, you can learn more here.

We are here to help, advise and support residents, so if you have any questions, please email the team on SSE@thanet.gov.uk.

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