Longford remains cleaner than European norms, according to the latest IBAL Anti-Litter League released this week.
Longford is “really holding its own” in the fight against litter, according to Cathaoirleach of Longford Municipal District Cllr Seamus Butler, following the announcement of the latest IBAL litter rankings on Monday.
Cllr Butler expressed his delight that Longford ranked just outside the top 10 in the final litter survey of 2018 by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) and was listed as 'Cleaner than European norms'.
In a ranking of 40 towns and cities, Longford is listed in the 11th spot and is the second cleanest town in the region, with Athlone listed in second place.
“It’s a very creditable performance by Longford because there are just one or two spots listed on the report where they found litter,” said Cllr Butler.
“We’re ahead of all other towns in the region, except Athlone, so we’re really holding our own.”
These results are a small victory for Longford, which has seen an infuriating number of dumping incidents over the past number of weeks.
“It’s a constant battle really because they could have come out and judged us on a bad day,” said Cllr Butler.
“A lot of it is in the lap of the gods, but we are holding our own. And it really reflects the amount of creditable work done by Tidy Towns and Longford Municipal District.”
A number of locations were cleaned up recently, according to Cllr Butler, but it's never an easy task, especially when you look at the number of places that have been used as dumping grounds lately.
Last week alone, there were a number of dumping incidents posted on social media by furious locals who came across unsightly piles of household rubbish.
In response to a post about littering at a bottle bank beside Longford Library, Longford town councillor Gerry Warnock published an irate “rant” on his own Facebook page.
The post he was responding to hit out at local councillors and litter wardens for a perceived lack of action towards the people who are carrying out the dumping.
“The Litter Warden, the councillors, the Tidy Towns volunteers nor indeed anyone with an ounce of civic pride are not responsible for the dumping at bottle banks. This is a factual statement,” said Cllr Warnock.
“As a councillor, (and I'm confident that I can speak for my colleagues), when I report any incidents of dumping to Environment it is dealt with efficiently and in a timely manner.
“The immediate task is an environmental clean up from which our Litter Warden sifts through the material, and the CCTV footage looking for evidence to bring proceedings against the perpetrators.
“Sometimes they are successful and other times not, but it's certainly not for the lack of trying to identify these animals.”
Cllr Warnock went on to say that there is “an unavoidable financial cost” when cleaning up areas that have been illegally used as dumping grounds.
“Money has to be provided for this rather than being spent on public realm, housing maintenance, community grants, etc. So in essence these perps are not only creating an unattractive, unhealthy environmental mess, they are also robbing your money that could be spent enhancing your community,” he fumed.
“We all have a duty of care to our environment, to our place and to each other. Unfortunately, there is a small minority of people living amongst us for whom these responsibilities and civic values are not important.
“These people are the ones who blame should be attributed to... not the ones who, excuse the pun, have to clean up the mess.
“I am appealing to anyone who sees any of this activity taking place to contact the Environment Section as a matter of urgency.
“You will be treated with confidence. Alternatively, you can call any of the local representatives and we'll liaise with Environment.”
Cllr Butler acknowledged the severity of dumping incidents around Longford over the past few weeks, saying that these incidents do not speak for Longford, as the latest IBAL rankings can prove.
“Everywhere sees a spike in dumping around Christmas time,” he said.
“Hopefully with CCTV we’ll get more prosecutions. There’s a very small minority doing the dumping, but it only takes a small minority.
“It's not an easy job, but Longford is really holding its own in the IBAL rankings.”
An Taisce, who carry out the surveys on behalf of IBAL, commented in its Longford report that, on the day of judging, there were no seriously littered sites in the town, with many of them achieving the top litter grade.
“Some of the top ranking sites included St Mel’s Cathedral (an excellent site), Dunnes Stores, Market Square, N4 Longford By-pass and the residential area of Teffia Park. These sites were not just good with regard to litter but also overall presentation and maintenance.”
Any dumping issues in Longford should be reported to the Environment Department, which can be contacted on 043 33 43300 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.