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Lack of resources and bins are leading to some “unsightly areas” cropping up and a gulf between East and West Clare, elected representatives have warned.

Securing extra resources for a cleaning programme for towns and villages in East Clare “with a particular emphasis on weeds” and the introduction of more bins across in these areas were proposals submitted before the Killaloe Municipal District by Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) and Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) respectively.

Engagement with Tidy Towns committees and community groups has been organised throughout 2021 by Clare County Council’s Rural Development Directorate “with a view to encouraging these groups and communities to help keep their areas clean and tidy,” senior executive engineer Niamh Madden stated in response.

She referenced Section 15 and 16 of the Litter Pollution Act as the “legal obligation on shops and businesses to ensure that they are accountable for dealing with litter emanating from their premises”.

Replacement bins have been ordered for larger towns in the District, some of which will have increased capacity for more litter but resources do not allow for additional bins. Bins in the MD have been abused in the past, Ms Madden recalled with staff having “borne witness to a number of these bins being abused in the area and has observed that bins are, in certain cases, being utilised by some members of the public and by some businesses in lieu of a household or business refuse collection service”.

In communities where no Tidy Towns or community group are in operation “it can lead to unsightly areas,” Cllr O’Brien observed. He emphasised that increased collaboration with Tipperary County Council would help Killaloe, a town which is reliant on tourism and needs to be presented “in a very pristine manner”. He added, “We need more general operatives and staff on our teams, go back and talk to the powers that be coming up to budgetary time”.

“There is a shortage of staff, it is also a shortage of resources, I’m looking at a seaside town in West Clare that can have a mechanical truck, a large town in East Clare has one operative pushing a wheelie bin down a hill. I think there is a duty on us to put in more resources in, I don’t agree that we have enough, we don’t have enough people. If plans aren’t supported with resources or proper infrastructure, we will be left where we are, we need to look at putting more resources in,” the Killaloe representative added.

Policies such as leave no trace have their pitfalls, Cllr Hayes believed. “We might say leave no trace and take everything away but there are instances when someone is after an ice-cream or a cigarette, they want to put it somewhere,” he remarked of the need for bins.

A shortage of general operatives in East Clare was acknowledged by Cllr Pat Burke (FG) who said the existing staff were “stretched”. He explained that he didn’t expect bins “at every junction” in Scariff but felt one was required “outside the Spice of Life for lads finishing their chips at 1am in Scariff”. In tourist spots such as Dromaan Harbour, Burke felt “the abuse of bins is shocking”.

Acting senior executive officer in the Killaloe MD, Morgan Lahiffe stated, “There is a responsibility all around Ireland for business owners to provide bins outside their premises, it is not happening in a lot of areas I think we will agree”.

Lahiffe praised the work of voluntary groups which took the burden off the local authority in litter picking across certain places. “We’ve never had a busier summer season, this year we’ve seen in the East Clare region a big increase in tourism in places like Ballycuggeran, Dromaan and Mountshannoon, the MD have certainly not shied away from resourcing those places because we know that’s where the people are going”.

Cathaoirleach of the MD, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) also commended the voluntary groups. “Weeds are growing in June, July and August, any Tidy Towns group will find it hard to pull the weeds by the kerbs and the side of roads. We used to spray them before, we’re not allowed unfortunately anymore, it was a great way of clearing them”.

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