Brighton and Hove was transformed from a tourist hotspot to a litter-strewn mess at the weekend.

As the bin strike enters its fourth day today negotiation talks are said to be “in jeopardy” after the union accused the council of breaking the law by sending lifeguards out to collect rubbish.

GMB said the revelation meant the council’s word was “worthless” after a vow not to send out other staff or agency workers.

The two parties were due to hold talks today in a bid to bring the planned week-long walkout to an early end.

Mark Turner, Hove branch secretary for the GMB, said: “We have photographic evidence which has been sent to our lawyers.

“It puts our relationship with them in jeopardy and that includes future talks.”

Under union laws, the council is prohibited from sending out agency workers during the official industrial action period.

The Cityclean strike began last Friday and is due to continue until Friday this week.

A number of events at the weekend were marred by the action, with fundraisers on the Martlets Midnight Walk having to traipse through litter on Friday night and strong gusts of wind whipping up rubbish during People’s Day on Sunday.

The GMB Union has put aside £100,000 for the campaign, an amount described as “significant”

by Mr Turner, showing the union’s “commitment to the cause”.

Saturday saw about 500 union members and residents march through the city.

In the throngs of the parade were Green rebel Phelim Mac Cafferty and Withnail and I, Star Wars and Wayne’s World actor Ralph Brown.

Union general secretary, Paul Kenny, who was due to lead the rally, had to pull out after being taken ill.

Mr Turner described the march as “successful” adding that the public support was “fantastic”.

He said: “They are the ones who are affected by this.

“Their support is extremely encouraging and should send a strong message to the council.”


  • See the effect of the strike with our interactive bins map


Brighton and Hove City Council chief executive Penny Thompson played down the union’s claim adding that they are “respecting the legal parameters”.

She said: “Some lifeguards have been clearing their patrol zones of items which they consider hazardous, such as broken glass, nails and sharp objects.

“They have explicitly been instructed not to remove general litter which does not pose a hazard.

“Ensuring the beach within the bathing area is clear of hazards is part of the daily procedure for the lifeguards and is not a newpractice.”