COUNTY Hall’s Chief Executive Tim Lucey has ruled out providing more litter bins to ease the littering problems saying that "no matter how often we empty our bins, there will be people who will leave their rubbish at the side of a bin which is a disgrace."
Mr Lucey was speaking in relation to a motion from Councillor Liam Quaide which called for each Municipal District to devise a plan for public realm maintenance and particularly waste management, that is based on its particular council staffing levels and local community group activity.
This plan would include engagement with local businesses, particularly those that may contribute to the increased waste generation ahead of a potentially busy summer.
Councillor’s Quaide’s motion attracted support from a number of councillors at the meeting who expressed their frustration at the current litter situation and lack of public toilets in Cork.
Cllr Audrey Buckley said it was a "disgrace that in this day and age there were not enough public toilets".
Cllr Buckley said that 14 bags of rubbish were picked up in Crosshaven over a 24 hour period over the weekend.
Cllr Danny Collins called for "more staff on the ground’" while Cllr Anthony Barry said a "culture change" is needed.
Cllr Karen Coakley called for "enhanced powers" for litter wardens, while Cllr Marcia D’Alton said bye-laws need to be enacted. Ms Dalton also called for compactor bins to be installed, while she pointed out that people are "vulnerable’"in the absence of public toilets.
In reply, Mr Lucey said that there are already 958 litter bins throughout the county.
“If I had my way I would have no bins around the county as I feel it only encourages people to leave litter.
“We spend €3.2 million on street cleaning and litter management every year. That is not a good use of taxpayers money. We could use this money across towns instead of trying to deal with irresponsible behaviour,” he said.
Mr Lucey has called on businesses to take some responsibility to provide facilities outside their doors and by cleaning up within the vicinity of their area.
“Tidy Towns and our staff do phenomenal work. It is about personal behaviour and it is about getting businesses to work more closely with us on the psychological message of getting people to take their rubbish home.
“I can’t understand the mentality of people to leave rubbish by the side of the street. We want take-aways to work but there is a big responsibility on them to take higher responsibility. We are all in this together. We will engage with Business Associations on the ground. We should not be spending more taxpayers money on trying to deal with a matter which is created by people,” he added.
Mr Lucey said they will look to increase toilet facilities in tourism hotspots around the county to negate the trouble with a lack of public toilets currently.
“We have 61 public toilets around Cork. If a business is trading on a takeaway basis, ideally it would be great if their toilet facilities were available for its patrons. We are hoping this will be addressed by regulations introduced by the Government. We might be able to make more of our facilities available. I’m not sure if this is feasible, but we will look into this.”
Mr Lucey said people need to ‘look at their own’ personal responsibility when it comes to ensuring public toilets are maintained to a good standard.
“The answer is not about throwing more and more resources. We will look to increase toilet facilities in tourism hotspots,” he said.
The Chief Executive of Cork County Council said a public campaign will be launched today to appeal to the ‘hearts and minds’ of Cork people with regards to littering.
“We will be starting a public campaign to appeal to people to take their litter home. It will appeal to the hearts and minds of Cork people to show more respect. We are not throwing more money into this. We will work on people’s senses,” he added.