This was the sorry scene on the beach in Blackpool as litter left behind by people enjoying the hottest day of the year so far lined the sands.
Taken by Gazette photographer Dan Martino, the picture shows a young boy surrounded by a tide of rubbish, from cans to plastic bags and bottles that risk being swept out to sea and adding to the environmental crisis engulfing the planet’s oceans.
It was branded “shocking”, “sad” and “disgusting” by those who work to keep the beaches clean, for the good of both the environment and the resort, which relies heavily on tourism.
But it has sparked renewed calls for those visitors – and locals making the most of the natural beauty of the Fylde coast – to be more responsible and clean up after themselves.
Taken from Central Pier looking north, the photo illustrates the scale of the problem keeping the beaches attractive and clean.
Zephie Begolo, of environmental group Love My Beach, which campaigns to keep our beaches and bathing water clean, said everyone had a part to play in keeping the coast’s beaches tidy and safe.
She added: “It is shocking and sad to see the beach in this condition.
“Love My Beach works tirelessly to keep our beaches litter-free and thanks to the work of the Turning Tides Partnership our coastline is the cleanest and safest it’s ever been.
“But it just goes to show that we still have work to do and everyone has a part to play.
“The hot weather is fantastic and it’s the perfect time to enjoy our wonderful beaches, but we would ask that people make sure they leave nothing but footprints and make sure they take their litter with them when they leave.
“We want everyone to have fun on the beach but let’s make sure we leave it as a safe, clean place for everyone and protect our wildlife and oceans as well.
“There are lots of bins on the beaches themselves so it’s easy to dispose of your litter there.
“Alternatively, take a bag with you and pack up your litter to dispose of or recycle at home.”
Part of the Turning Tides Partnership along with councils, United Utilities Keep Britain Tidy and the Environment Agency, Love My Beach has this week launched a series of events along the North West Coast under the banner Active Coast which people can find on its website.
Richard McIlwain deputy chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy said: “We have been working in partnership with Blackpool Council on the Keep Blackpool Tidy campaign and while it’s disappointing to see litter left on the beaches like this we are confident that through working with residents, businesses and schools of Blackpool we can make this kind of scene a thing of the past.”
Blackpool Council said that cleaning teams were sent out to remove the rubbish but appealed to people to be more responsible and take their waste to a bin or take it home.
Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “ This picture is just awful and no way reflects how our beaches normally look.
“This picture doesn’t show a lack of bins or a lack of street cleansing staff.
“It shows a society where people think they can leave their litter and someone else will clean it up for them.
“They haven’t even attempted to take their waste off the beach and put it in one of the 250 bins that line the Promenade, bins that were getting emptied regularly during the 15 hour shift our staff worked yesterday.
“It’s disgusting behaviour.
“Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated teams the beach and Promenade were once again immaculate first thing this morning.
“Blackpool has a fantastic community of volunteers and local businesses that support our Keep Blackpool Tidy campaign.
“All of our beaches have Seaside Awards and we work to keep them clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.
“But it’s down to the public to their bit as well. It is a simple message – don’t litter.”
Blackpool’s South Beach, this year lost the Blue Flag award it has held for the past three years, as water quality dropped fractionally below the benchmark standard.
Council chiefs said at the time it was “disappointing” and work would continue to win the flag back next year.
However, four beaches – South, Central, North and Bispham – have got a Seaside Award from Keep Britian Tidy.