Cullercoats Collective are proactively working with Operation Coastwatch 2021
Based on the lessons from Summer 2020, a particularly bad summer where Cullercoats experienced an unexpected rise of visitors coming to enjoy the beach and surrounding areas after being ‘cooped up’ for so long during lockdown. This also unfortunately brought with it, more Anti-Social behaviour and littering.
Residents and businesses: cafés, fishermen, leisure facilities began to ‘mass-evacuate’ the beach a shelter from our community spaces because of the issues that happen a short while after the sunrise, to return to ‘assess the damage’ left and begin the cleanup process after the sun had gone down. It was a daily occurrence, and getting worse given the lack of supervision/presence and causing a physical and virtual negative appearance and reputation, losses for businesses, and understandable anger and anxiety amongst the community. One of the main reasons that Cullercoats Collective was formed, was from a group of residents and businesses who were ‘fed up’ and wanted to do something about this recurring annual issue for good, and hold the Council and the police to account.
Through months of conversations, liaison and engagement, we have established links with North Tyneside Council and Northumbria police to be able to provide feedback and lessons learned from previous years, as well as local knowledge to work alongside them for Operation Coastwatch 2021 to extend on previous years’ work and make sure that this year is bigger and better resourced than ever.
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There's increased footfall in town on a match day and therefore increased police presence, what about the increased footfall at the beach on a hot day?
Warm weather plan
Our message was simple, and thankfully aligned with the Operation Coastwatch 2021 strategy too. Operation Coastwatch 2021 therefore has a plan for warmer days = more resource at hand.
From Police, we can expect to see them meeting people from the metro, handing out dispersal notices when required, and seizing alcohol from those who should not be carrying it. Our Neighbourhood officers will be working with Marine police, and other police resources should they need it.
North Tyneside Council (NTC) also have a warm weather plan. There is and will be further added local authority resource this year including increased CCTV (now installed covering Cullercoats Bay) with live surveillance now coming under Operation Coastwatch (from 1st April) where the NTC’s Community Protection Team on duty can radio into CCTV control to help with watching alongside the boots on the ground. Extra resource on warm weather days, now covering weekends as well as weekdays, will also be to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) under public space protection order breaches (dog fouling, littering, etc.) and working with NTC Cleansing Teams on ways to ensure overflowing bins are seen to more responsively.
However, we are expecting another LONG summer, regardless of weather!
We are all expecting a similar summer to last, and regardless of weather, we expect another busy season (with an increase in litter and other issues) given people being ‘cooped’ up for so long, not being able to leave the Local Area or go abroad, and the increased availability of takeaway cups and packaging.
Therefore, the approach has started early, and Coastwatch was implemented early with a tiered approach; From 1 March 2021, designed to be responsive to changing COVID restrictions. Operation Coastwatch becomes our coastal Neighbourhood Policing Teams’ daily business, and the extra resource – should they need it – is within the warm weather plan.
By working alongside Cullercoats Collective, Totally Tynemouth Collective and other Coastal Community groups, we can support Operation Coastwatch.
Operation Coastwatch and Cullercoats Collective
We were invited to meet with NTC’s Community Protection Team and Northumbria Police to discuss how we can work alongside them.
Cullercoats Collective provided feedback from previous years, concerns from our Community (as informed from our community engagement work) and what strategies we have in place that require Operation Coastwatch to support (e.g. TRASHMOBs).
We can help inform Operation Coastwatch, help with their surveillance/intelligence, decrease public scrutiny and our communities’ anxieties by helping to disseminate their plans, and hold them to account.
We are keen to work alongside Operation Coastwatch on proactive strategies as well as reactive, to build up a positive presence.
How will cullercoats collective work with operation coastwatch to help make cullercoats a positive place to live, work and visit?
Operation Coastwatch and a warm welcome (ASB)
One of our objectives is to increase a degree of positive presence. Therefore, to counterbalance a potentially heavy police/”High-vis” presence (which itself can sometimes look intimidating!), Our Cullercoats Ambassadors can provide a Warm Welcome to Cullercoats, offer a friendly face to signpost visitors to facilities, hand out bin bags and Celebrate Cullercoats, which also helping to be eyes and ears. We formalised a link between Cullercoats Collective presence and Operation Coastwatch, where they will provide Cullercoats Collective their weekly Coastwatch duty rotas (we can confirm that we have received the first weeks rota from Police) so that we can contact them when required and assist with any issues that may be arising.
NTC have offered us and our Ambassadors shadowing opportunities with their enforcement officers who play a key role in spotting trouble ‘brewing’, and sending it through to Coastwatch.
Operation Coastwatch and showing Pride of Place (Cleansing: litter, bins)
We asked for North Tyneside Council to work with us towards our Pride of Place Strategy goals. We need the Council to show that they are looking after Cullercoats as much (if not more) than us.
We highlighted the concerns with bins overflowing or being left overnight, where the wind, seagulls and rats undo the work of all litter picking volunteers and make problems worse. We asked about the scope to ensure that the Cleansing Team and Community Protection Team work flexibly, overtime (e.g. to 8pm on hot days and weekends) and allow us to help identify and communicate particularly problematic areas.
NTC have agreed to assist us with TRASHMOBs, to ensure to the best of their ability that the bulk rubbish is collected before the end of the day. NTC have promised to provide us with locked bins for this purpose (and we will work with them on signage to explain why they are locked!), and kindly offered to provide us with the Beach LitterPicking Storage Cabinet we have been working towards, and keeping it stocked!
In addition, we want Cullercoats to be treated as a Blue Flag Beach, and we can confirm that NTC have promised that the Surf Rake will come down each day from 1 April 2021.
working with Police and council in the future
Training: We would love to be able to provide our volunteers and Ambassadors a scheme to gain skills that they can take forward elsewhere (such as managing positive behaviour, dealing with confrontation etc). Formal training is difficult within the timeframe and under the restrictions, but we have agreed to work together to establish what works, learning points, and look into how we can establish programmes in future years.
Text to Empty Bins: We pitched an idea to NTC to provide signage on bins to increase accountability along the lines of “Is this bin full? next bin is XX steps away, please do not allow this bin to overflow and consider taking your rubbish/recycling home with you.” alongside a “Text to empty” QR code to inform the cleansing teams. NTC have already began looking at best practice around this idea and are keen to learn form that in order to plan how they could integrate it in the medium term, however Cullercoats Collective may look into helping them pilot this now. Please do get in touch with us if you feel like this is something you can get involved in, or do consider a donation to assist us with funding a “text to empty” project. (*we can only use the links we’ve already established this year! It may assist us with collecting data on the busiest bins to help inform the route Council take to empty them.)
Environmental Sustainability: Alongside getting better bins and more recycling facilities, we’re also interested in getting involved with longer term strategies to combat the types of litter we see alongside the Environment Sustainable Team. Many of our local businesses provide recyclable/compostable single-use items, particularly given the increased use of them in response to COVID, however they all end up in the same bins, taking up a lot of space (and therefore contributing to them overflowing), or require industrial composting facilities.
Summary of Actions
- CCTV to cover Cullercoats Bay and monitored live every day
- NTC Community Protection Team and Northmbria Police will share Operation Coastwatch duty rotas with Cullercoats Collective (we can confirm that we have received the first weeks’ from Police)
- Police, Council (alongside Nexus) will have Metro welcome parties
- Added Police and Local Authority resources
- Coastwatch to start earlier this year
- Comms meetings to discuss early key messages
- NTC will provide added locked bins for Cullercoats Collective to use only (e.g. for TRASHMOB) with these emptied each morning (looking to put posters/signage on these around our joint work on these)
- The Surf rake will be used each day from April 1st this year
- Cleansing to provide us with a plan of action for this season.
- NTC Community Protection team to offer shadowing to Ambassadors/ volunteers if required.
- The text to empty bin idea will be progressed by Cleansing over the next year.
- Operation Coastwatch will be meeting with local businesses (egg, Off-licenses) around sale of alcohol.
- Operation Coastwatch to share the plan with Cullercoats Collective, for dissemination to our wider community.