MID Ulster District Council is to seek the help of local companies as it aims to tackle the scourge of litter in the district.
The issue, which plagues almost all of the district’s towns and villages, reared its head during a meeting of council’s policy and resources committee.
During the discussion that was initiated by Cllr Frances Burton, the council’s chief executive, Adrian McCreesh said he was of the view that 70 per-cent of the litter being lifted is “emanating from four or five companies in their various guises” and called on these companies to “step up” and “help be part of the solution”.
At the meeting, Cllr Burton asked how, with council no longer employing the external contractor Waste Investigations Support and Enforcement (WISE), it will succeed in its goal of creating cleaner neighbourhoods. “It is very important to create cleaner neighbourhoods but we are not employing WISE any more yet we seem to still have issues with chewing gum, dog fouling and waste.
“There is not a road in the rural area that you do not go up or down without noticing the bottles and chip paper and what have you and I am just wondering how we intend to meet our targets.
“Obviously in our ‘Ulster in Bloom’ sites volunteers do a lot but it is very important people are supported and I would be keen to find out how we improve that.”
The committee’s chair, Cllr Cora Corry said that, with regards to littering, a paper should be coming back to council’s development committee in the autumn.
Cllr Burton said she was aware of this but wanted to know how council can be sure it has the right processes in place to meet its littering targets.
“We seem to talk an awful lot about waste and litter and all of that, but a lot of our villages would tell you it is not improving,” she said.
“How do we ensure we have the right processes in place and that people are fined if they are not living up to what they should be?”
A council officer explained the working group tasked with dealing with this issue is led by Kieran Gordon, the council’s assistant director of health, leisure and wellbeing, and said that is certainly something that can be discussed within the working group.
“Some of our key actions include continuing the enhanced anti-littering enforcement approach and supporting the local clean ups,” said the council officer.
“I am pretty sure that within the realms of that working group they will be looking to set targets within departments to see benefits in all of those areas but that is certainly something we can speak with them about.”
Council’s chief executive, Adrian McCreesh told the committee he would like to see local companies play their part in the education and clean-up process.
“I just want to say that in terms of litter, 70 per-cent of the litter that has been lifted and analysed is emanating from four or five companies in their various guises,” he said.
“I think we should set targets where we can but we also have to be realistic — we are not creating the litter.
“It is an educational thing and everyone has a responsibility — families, parents, children and schools need to recognise that littering is irresponsible.”
“Companies also need to step up, take responsibility and help us by being part of the solution. Currently, the only ones that are investing heavily in it are the ratepayers and council.”
He added, “I would like to see a shared responsibility with companies that are part of the problem so they share some of the responsibility and I hope and expect that Kieran will work towards that.
“I know we are engaging with said companies to become more involved in the solutions, they can say it is not happening on their premises and that is fine but the raw materials are emanating from their premises and that is the challenge.”
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