The bin bags that are blighting the gateways of Bath
They don't feature in any tourist guide to the city.
But when visitors arrive in Bath to take in the internationally renowned Georgian architecture and Roman heritage, one of the first things they often see are plastic bags full of rubbish hung from railings.
Visitors to Bath do not need to live in the city to be able to guess what day of the week refuse collections take place when they are confronted by streets full of assorted plastic bags bulging with waste.
Residents' groups in the city claim hanging bags over railings, however unpleasant, is a desperate attempt by people to prevent their rubbish being a target for animals scavenging for food.
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Patrick Rotheram, chairman of Vineyards Residents' Association, whose area around The Paragon can be dominated by the phenomenon on rubbish collection day, said plastic bags were unsightly.
He said: "The bigger problem in our view is rubbish bags which are split open by seagulls or other vermin, leaving the rubbish strewn around the street. People may think that hanging bags from railings makes it harder for animals to get at them."
Ian Perkins, chairman of the Abbey Residents' Association, said: "People have differing views about it mixed up with the next problem of the gulls. Some people see hanging bags prevents animals from attacking them.
"Bags on fences are not the most attractive thing but the most important thing is the speed bags are collected."
Concern has been raised about the impact the sight of plastic bags has on Bath's World Heritage Site status.
Nick Brooks-Sykes, chief executive of the marketing body Bath Tourism Plus, said: "It doesn't say a lot about how we take care of the world heritage city and it is not a good reflection of what we think of the world heritage status.
"The shock is it's always been like that – even in Victorian times people hung stuff on the railings – it's not a new phenomenon. It doesn't look good when you see all this gorgeous Georgian architecture and see detritus hanging from the railings."
Caroline Kay, chief executive of the Bath Preservation Trust, said the bags, especially when broken, were a big problem for the city.
However, both Mr Brooks- Sykes and Mrs Kay have said they are hopeful new reinforced black plastic sacks being piloted in the city by B&NES will help improve the early morning vista.
Mrs Kay said: "The council is introducing new reinforced plastic bags that the seagulls can't get into. One hopes a contribution of that and household effort, because there has to be household effort, will help. We want the city looking as good as it can."
Councillor David Dixon (Lib Dem, Oldfield), cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Bath and North East Somerset Council, said the authority had no statutory powers to stop people from hanging rubbish over railings.
He said: "All that we ask is that people present their waste so that it doesn't cause litter. The plastic bags are on the railings only relatively briefly. If householders feel strongly about this they are welcome to purchase their own dustbin which we will happily collect. The reusable rubbish bag trial, if successful, should reduce the visual impact of these carrier bags."
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