Why do we put up with this?

Monday morning on Lion Street

Every other Monday morning, before the refuse collection team arrives, the streets in the upper town are a public disgrace. The pink bag recycling system as it currently operates is not fit for purpose. Unless the sacks are protected from the reach of our resident gull population, they are pulled about and ripped opened with their contents spread in disgusting fashion across the street.

Monday morning on Hilders Cliff

The bin men do a fantastic job and so does the council-employed litter picking team. By 11 o’clock, the situation is greatly improved; but what a waste of effort and what a heedless attitude on the part of those residents who cause the problem! Can you imagine a German city or Singapore condoning such a blight, without it being classified as anti-social activity amounting to criminal behaviour? Are we prepared to trade some of our civil rights freedoms for a bit of civic housekeeping sanity?

For some time, responsible house-owners have been able to purchase black hessian sacks that were first introduced to the area by Hastings Borough Council. Perhaps their use should be made compulsory for those who cannot otherwise safeguard their pink bags from gull depredation?

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .


  1. I was told that the black hessian sacks are for black plastic bags with general waste only, not for pink recycling bags. The gulls generally do not attack pink bags, as they know these do not contain food. Most of the rubbish I have seen on the streets on Monday mornings is from gulls attacking overfull rubbish bins, not from recycling bags.

  2. I think that when it comes to rubbish bins and sacks being left out the citadel leaves a lot to be desired, drive along the High Street on Sunday tea time and there’s barely room on the paths for people to walk, weekenders leave their rubbish out sometimes days before it gets collected.
    We blame the birds but if the temptation wasn’t there the birds wouldn’t be either, maybe not putting quite so much rubbish in the bag or double bagging it would help, seal the food in a bag before putting it in the bin bag would also help, these are not difficult things to do and will help.
    Some of the business bins also leave a lot to be desired.

  3. The only way to stop this wanton littering of our streets, is for the council to write to all those in the Citadel, that their rubbish must not go out,until the day of collection, or they will be fined, weekenders, and holiday lets owners,will then have to adhere,or face the consequences, its the only way these people will learn that this mess will not be tolerated.

  4. Gulls? I rather doubt it! Living in the Citadel for well over 20 years now we have noted that it is only a small minority of gulls that go for the black bags, others ignore them, and that very few gulls indeed ever bother with the pink bags. Gulls attacking the bags at night is unlikely, but badgers and foxes are present at night throughout the Citadel, and will go for food waste if they can find it. It is also worth noting that it is already illegal to put out your rubbish too early, and that in fact hardly anyone around us ever does so. Some of the problem comes (as you can see in the photo) from overstuffed litter bins that are then emptied by non-human life forms, that seem particularly fond of the leftovers from fish and chips. It would be helpful if during the holiday period these litter bins were emptied rather more often, I suggest. But the answer surely is for pink hessian bags to be available as well as the gull and fox and badger proof black ones, so that ALL rubbish can be put out safely, throughout the Rother and East Sussex areas.

  5. I can see the merit in most of the above comments. But I was shocked when I went out early and saw the bags littering the pavements and some attacked..It is the Gulls but there are Rooks also.
    And yes Badgers and foxes but they are nocturnal.
    I put my pink bag out about 10mins before the collectors came one time only the other week and in that time a Gull did peck at it. That Gull has been fed by a resident ..and continued by someone else over the years.
    A near neighbour’s black bag on two occasions has been attacked and contents over the road..but I was able to go out and pick it all up. And could not see any food or inviting smell for the Gull/ Rook..

    I have to use old plastic carrier bags for refuge as don’t have enough for a black bag. and Pink bags. But I do not put them out until I hear the refuge/recycling vehicle coming so get up and put it out then..though on the council web they say by before 7am. As the collection come about 6.15am.
    The Hessian bags some one said the council stopped giving as were a danger to the pedestrians.
    They do collect pink bags from the black hessian bags that some households have.
    Some use plastic old fashion dust bins with lids..
    If the council get the public bins cleared more often..who do you think has to pay? Answer the council tax payer..not the visitors…
    Why if every one says I agree with recycling less plastic less food waste..has the bags multiplied..??
    Do we really think before we buy , consume.. before thinking recycling is the first answer.
    And those take away drink cups are not recycle in our Punk bags.they are not compostable at domestic level only industrial compostable..so impossible for the consumer to do so.
    Yes there are households and holiday let’s that use the public bins..so no room for general visitors.

    One piece of advice I was told 19 years ago from the council re Gulls and black bags was to put bleach on the outside to stop the Bird attack’s..

  6. Oh dear, Kenneth, is everything that goes wrong in this town the fault of the residents? How exactly is it our fault, and what are we supposed to do? Every other Monday I get up at 7am and put out my pink recycling bags, as prescribed by the Council. Last recycling Monday, I took two bags out, and went back for one more – in the 30 seconds or so that elapsed before I returned to the High Street, a gull had found the first two bags and started to peck holes in them. At this time of year, I put the bags out, leave my front door open, so that I can hear when the gulls are attacking the bags, and rush out at frequent intervals to scare them off!
    So, time for a few facts to correct the wave of disinformation in the replies to your article: 1. Mostly, it is not foxes, badgers or rooks that target the bags, it is in fact the gulls; I don’t know where E Mayer lives “in the Citadel”, but what I see in the High Street, fortnight after fortnight, is gulls descending on the recycling bags and any other rubbish that is not protected; 2. Sheila Maddock is right: the heavy-duty black bags are for normal domestic rubbish only, not recycling; 3. However, sorry, Sheila, you are also wrong! The gulls do not “know” that there is nothing to eat in the pink bags, they will happily rip them to shreds in search of food; 4. Double-bag the pink bags? Please be serious: have you seen the gulls’ beaks? They will easily get through 3, 4 or 5 layers, never mind two.
    What has changed, unfortunately, in recent months, is that the collection of the recycling bags, which was earlier completed by about 8am, now takes place much later, usually after the black bags have been collected, so the gulls have plenty of time to create an unsightly mess. Rather than futile whingeing about the supposed failings of the residents, why not write to the Council and ask them politely to go back to an earlier collection time, or request that, as E Mayer sensibly suggests, they supply robust containers for the recycling bags, similar to those available for the black bags?
    By the way, it is going to get worse: soon, the young gulls will be demanding food from their parents, who will scour the High Street in an ever more desperate search for food. It won’t be pretty…


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