Summer is coming, the nights are getting warmer, and the streets are thronged with festival-goers.
What’s not to like? Easy – the steaming pile of half-eaten fish and chips, empty bottles, and used condoms that tourists leave behind.
Recently we learned that Brighton is the most popular seaside destination in the UK. The city-by-the-sea attracted 409,000 visitors in 2013 – an increase of more than than 50,000 on the year before. According to the survey from the Office for National Statistics Brighton and Hove is the eighth most popular town or city for tourists in the UK. No other seaside resort made the top 20. The nearest rival was Bournemouth in 36th place, while Hastings, just along the coast, came in at 65th.
It is wonderful to be popular, of course, but the joy is always diminished when your guests throw their rubbish on your front step.
While other destinations may envy the visitors figures, they will be happy avoid the inevitable impact. On the first weekend of July 2013 , seafront refuse collectors picked up more than 90 tonnes worth of litter which, according to the council, weighs the same as 20,000 deck chairs. It also smells a whole lot worse. Among the detritus abandoned by funseekers are nappies, beer cans, plastic bags, a portable barbecue or two and the odd item of furniture.
It doesn’t compare to the godawful stink created by fans of Fatboy Slim in 2002 when around 250,000 people turned up to his open-air party, but it’s pretty unpleasant all the same.
During last year’s strike by Cityclean workers, the problem on the seafront grew so acute that some business owners and residents took matters into their own hands and organised a voluntary clean up. There was some accusations of strike breaking from some quarters and a vigorous debate ensued. In the end, the strike was called off and a new pay deal was agreed.
Thankfully there is little chance of a repeat of such scenes this year.
But as the mercury rises, does the stench.
Early on May 27, following the bank holiday weekend, I will be down on the seafront alongside, I hope, hundreds of others, with a plastic bag in one hand and a litter pick in the other.
The city council and local businesses and residents will do their bit in what has been dubbed the “Big Beach Clean-Up”. But you don’t have to be local to take part – just get yourself to Palace Pier by 8.30am. Hopefully, we won’t have too much work to do – but that is down to the visitors.
So if you are planning to top up your tan or take in the sea air in Brighton this bank holiday, have a great time – but along with you cherished memories, please take your rubbish home with you.
This article was first published in The Argus on May 24, 2014.