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Carnage at Balmedie beach as sunbathers leave piles of litter and damage disabled toilets

Wishart McBride and Pauline Mackie were among the volunteers cleaning up the mess at Balmedie. Picture by Chris Sumner

Volunteers are clearing up a trail of destruction left behind after thoughtless sunbathers trashed a popular beauty spot over the scorching weekend.

As temperatures reached record heights across the region on Friday and Saturday, crowds flocked to the seaside to make the most of the warm weather.

But the community champions who look after Balmedie beach have been left “disgusted” by the chaos some sun-seekers caused.

Disabled toilets which were recently revamped at a cost of about £50,000 have been left out of bounds after someone tried to force their way in.

Meanwhile, a large patch of gorse near the Sand Bothy refreshments kiosk “went up like a torch” when a disposable barbecue was tossed into the shrubbery on Saturday afternoon.

Some of the scenes at Balmedie after crowds descended on the Aberdeenshire coast at the weekend

Heaps of rubbish, including discarded underwear, were left scattered across the sands in the aftermath of the sizzling weekend.

Pictures also showed mounds of litter piled up around overflowing bins.

Today, a “posse of mums” banded together with others from the village to clear up the mess.

Kyle Nicol lending a hand to deal with the debris. Picture by Chris Sumner

Disabled toilets out of use

Fiona Winstanley, who is the co-ordinator for the Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs group, is one of several locals now patrolling the area to issue advice to visitors and keep it safe.

Fiona said: “The worst of it was that the new disabled toilet, which we only opened about three weeks ago, has been left out of bounds.

“To get access to the toilet, people have a special ‘radar’ key, which disabled people and their families know about and usually own.

“Somebody has tried opening the door with the wrong type of key though, and it has snapped off.

“A locksmith has been called out, and nobody can use it now until the lock gets replaced.”

Doreen Bendelow cor and Kaye Bent removing the rubbish. Picture by Chris Sumner

‘People are destroying what we have got’

Fiona added: “People seem to think it is the council’s responsibility to clear the mess up, or to provide more bins in the first place.

“But if bins are overflowing, then you can take your litter home with you rather than leaving things like discarded underwear around the bothy.

“People are going there and destroying what we have got.

“We are a bunch of hard-working volunteers trying to do our best, we are trying to make it lovely for families to come down and spend time together here.

“This is so alarming and sad. If you want to come and have a picnic on a beautiful beach, please take the rubbish away with you.”

Balmedie beach, pictured here last summer, is a go-to destination for scores of Aberdonians when the sun comes out

‘Disposable barbecues are awful’

Recently, Co-op stores around the Cairngorms have stopped selling disposable barbecues to cut down on littering and prevent them from sparking fires.

Fiona believes this policy should be rolled out more widely, particularly at potential wildfire hotspots.

She said: “Disposable barbeques are awful, and wildfires can cause such long-term damage.

“There are fire pits at the country park, so there’s no need for people to be bringing them here in the first place.

“The simplest answer would be banning them in areas where there’s likely to be problems.”

Pauline Mackie, Fiona Winstanley, Wishart McBride, Kaye Bent and Doreen Bendelow cleaning up the beach today. Picture by Chris Sumner

To make matters worse, Fiona said some motorists were parking in front of bollards at the entrance to the car park on Sunday – meaning that fire crews would have struggled to access the country park if needed.

Bruce Farquharson, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s local senior officer for Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray, confirmed that crews extinguished a blaze that raged across a 65ft patch of ground.

He said: “We were alerted at 3.06pm on Saturday to reports of a fire in the open at Balmedie beach, which was due to the careless disposal of a barbecue.

“We are asking visitors to make sure campfires and barbecues are lit in a fire safe pit or container, are always attended, and are fully extinguished before leaving.

“Just one ember can start a fire which has the potential to burn for days and can be devastating for communities, wildlife and farmland and at the same time places a strain on emergency services.”

Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs volunteers provide free rental of wheelchairs suitable for the sand, enabling disabled people to enjoy the scenic spot.

‘Rubbish from start to finish’: Disposable barbecues banned at Cairngorms Co-op stores

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