Streets of squalor: “Deplorable” scenes at the end of the academic year

Trash all over the road and grass in Ulcombe Gardens

As the universities go into partial hibernation and the students begin to drift back to their hometowns, permanent residents have grown accustomed to seeing the annual scenes of mess they leave behind.

In areas heavily populated with students, there often an increase in the amount of rubbish which ends up on the street as students discard unwanted items.

This week roads on the Hales Place Estate have been particularly badly affected.

Mark Reid, 40, who has lived on the Estate almost all his life, said: “It’s not all students. We know that and some are good neighbours.

“But the fact is that if just one or two households are irresponsible, then a whole street can become messy. The bags end up being opened by animals which the wind then blows all over the place.

Mess on the road at Crossways, Hales Place

“And pretty soon you’ve got a whole street covered in mess.”

Two of the worst roads affected are Ulcombe Gardens off Headcorn Drive and Crossways off Tenterden Drive.

The estate is in the St Stephen’s ward, which is represented by the city council’s anti-litter champion Cllr Terry Westgate.

He said: “I actually don’t think the problem is as bad as it has been in previous years – but it could obviously be better.

“The problem is that what happens is that students leaving at the end of the year simply fill up bin bags with all their unwanted food waste.

“Instead of the waste going into the wheelie bins, it’s left in these bags which are then opened by animals, especially sea gulls and foxes.

“This has been an an ongoing problem for a number of years now and it looks like the weekend just gone is the big one for students moving out.

“Most of the landlords in Canterbury are quite responsible, but we need those that are not to play a bigger role in preventing situations like from developing.”

A bed dumped in Whitstable Road

Anti-litter and cleaner Canterbury campaigners are also concerned that the end-of-year bin amnesty for student houses has developed into a kind of free-for-all for leaving rubbish out.

Sian Pettman, of the Friends of Kingsmead Field, said: “‘The mess is simply deplorable.

“It is totally demoralising for all long-term residents and very destructive for any sense of a shared community.

“The end of year bin amnesty in these areas should not become a licence for students, cleaners or landlords to dump anything at any time.

“It has to be tightly controlled or it will create more problems than it solves.”

Prof Rick Norman, of the St Michael’s Residents’ Association, has in the past advocated giving students lessons in clearing up after themselves.

He said: “Clearly there are issues that need to be addressed to improve the end of year bin amnesty arrangements.  And it’s not going to work unless landlords take their share of the responsibility for their own property.”



  2. All very, very disgusting.
    Pedantic point first though – After all, Canterbury is an academic city. You can’t hibernate in the (northern hemisphere) summer! Aestivation is the word you’re after. Lose one house point!

    What maddens me about this situation is that the 20-somethings who leave this mess blame my generation (1960s) for screwing the planet up. I assure you, my bins are scrupulously managed and I actively shop to reduce food wastage and prefer less packaging to more. The same is true for my neighbours, none of whom are students, though a few people have (very well behaved) student lodgers, whose rubbish management is exemplary.

    The acid test on this subject can be proved by having a chat with the SERCO personnel who clear our streets. They’ll tell you that in “student areas” rubbish isn’t separated from recycling, food isn’t placed in the little grey containers and the whole system is failing due to laziness, lethargy and a shoulder-shruggiing “whatever” attitude. The result is a dreadful, unhygienic mess. Lucky for these 20-somethings then, that there are small armies of 40/50 somethings who clear up after them. These legions include parents, neighbours, SERCO staff, passers by, dog walkers and volunteer groups. It must be like having access to domestic staff, or the fairies at the bottom of the garden!
    None of this should be necessary!

    At my school, on day one, we were introduced to the rules, which were also posted up at various places, in letters writ large. These rules, which included littering, were ignored/broken at pupils’ peril! Detentions, lines and letters to parents were among the sanctions/penalties available.
    Is there any good reason why UKC and CCCU could not do the same, or similar? Football clubs are held responsible for their fans’ behavior. Why should the unis (who are fast enough on the draw, when it comes to trousering student fees) not be held responsible for their students poor off-campus behaviour and/or other failings? In turn, the unis could haul up the malefactors and apply appropriate sanctions.

    One thing is pretty certain. If students were made to realise that their education is not limited to what they hear in lecture halls and that poor behaviour (of any kind) could impact on their continued attendance at uni, then perhaps they’d learn a little more about neighbourliness, sociability and what it is to be guests in our city. As it is, they bugger off for a 3 month summer holiday and leave Canterbury residents to turn to pick up their stinking mess, as well as the pleasure of footing the bill for so doing. All of this, just in time for the whole process to recommence in October.

  3. You know what, fuck this post. The majority of time my bin was fall up, not because of us but because council refused to give us a red bin for recycling cardboard and paper. We have to pay to recycle? Yeah great incentive. Not only this but you essentially putting students in a house made for a family of around 3/4 and making it 6. Like honestly what you expect? Maybe fine the landlords they rob us for a tiny room and facilities that are drastically small for how many people are living there. So yeah when a normal house of 3/4 is throwing away rubbish for 6 and not supplied the correct recycling bin, don’t moan when your area becomes a home for trash blowing about. I lived in Hales place and this is what I had to deal with.

    Before you start pointing the blame at students, trying pointing at the council and the landlords

  4. I have children who have studied at other universities. We regularly visited them at their shared student HMO. On every occasion the accommodation was clean and tidy, rubbish in the correct bins and the front garden neat and tidy.
    The students wanted to live in a clean and tidy place and wanted to ensure their deposits were returned. The landlord had the grass cut regularly. The untidy neighbouring properties were not student homes.
    All landlords need to actively manage their properties. Many do.
    Surely these students get occasional visits from their parents who should also have a word with them?
    We have thousands of students in Canterbury. The vast majority live and study in harmony with the resident population. There are some though who do not and the universities and landlords, with perhaps and overseeing role by the City Council, need to do better and intervene to keep the whole city clean and tidy.


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