FROM the outset of my term as Lord Mayor, my focus has been firmly on the blight of litter in our city.
The pandemic seems to have amplified the issue — along with the usual suspects of crisp bottles and cans, we now notice discarded face masks and gloves on the streets.
Litter and litter-related issues remain with us and while personal responsibility must play a key role in preventing litter, Cork City Council has, over the past 12 months, been proactive in dealing with litter and illegal dumping. In 2020, the litter wardens issued over 1,300 litter fines and to date in 2021, a total of 400 litter fines have been issued.
Education is key in helping to change behaviour.
In the coming weeks Cork City Council will undertake a citywide information leaflet drop in relation to the City Council’s Bye-Laws for the segregation, storage and presentation of household and commercial waste, which came in to force just two years ago.
Introduced after public consultation, the aims of these bye-laws are to ensure that all citizens dispose of their waste by using an authorised waste contractor, by taking it to an authorised waste facility or by sharing bins by agreement, to ensure waste is properly segregated at source, and how and when wheelie bins are to be presented for collection.
They also introduced fixed penalty notice for contraventions of the bye-laws, and enforcement of the bye-laws began in June 2019.
As a proud member of the Mayfield St Luke’s Tidy Towns group, I knew my key priority as Lord Mayor would be to spread the Tidy Towns ethos across the whole of the city. In my inaugural speech, I set out my aim to establish a community based anti-littering and anti-dog fouling movement in Cork City and this came to fruition in March, when I launched the Cork Against Litter initiative. As part of the initiative, an enhanced Anti Dog Fouling Awareness Campaign was launched. During the pandemic, there has been a significant rise in pet ownership – and sadly, a corresponding rise in irresponsible pet owners!
Our campaign included messaging across all the local radio stations and advertising across the city bus shelter network promoting responsible dog ownership. It is important the message of responsible dog ownership is also impressed upon the next generation of dog owners and I wrote to every primary school in the city inviting them to participate in this year’s primary schools anti dog fouling poster contest.
There has been a great response from the schools, and it has generated a huge amount of discussion and awareness within the school community which in turn has been brought into the homes of the pupils.
Details of the winners of the Poster Competition will be announced later this month.
In addition to the education and encourage aspect of the campaign, the Litter Warden Service will be carrying out enforcement activities to combat the anti-social behaviour of dog fouling which is left happen by the minority of irresponsible dog owners.
The challenging aspect of enforcing dog fouling fines is that Litter Pollution Acts 1997-2009 specify a litter warden must observe the dog depositing the faeces and also observe the owner failing to remove it.
To overcome this, the City Council’s litter wardens will carry out plain-clothes, out-of-hours enforcement activities in areas of the city that have been identified as black spots for dog fouling. An on-the-spot fine costs €150 and the maximum court fine is €3,000.
In recent weeks, I have spoken out publicly on the issue of large crowds gathering at beauty spots in the city and the subsequent mess left behind.
I cannot praise Cork City Council Operations crews more highly — they have been working hard to alleviate the problem.
For example, at Bell’s Field litter is picked and bins emptied each day by our Parks crews. There is a problem with people dumping domestic rubbish at Bell’s Field, compounded by people enjoying the space during the good weather, but choosing to litter the place rather than take their rubbish home. This is frustrating for both local residents and for the Council teams who maintain the area. The bins in major parks across the City, regardless of location, are emptied at weekends.
Cork City Council cannot tackle the issue of littering on its own, it is only through working in partnership with communities and by citizens taking personal responsibility for their action in relation to litter and waste that we can bring about a cleaner Cork for us all to enjoy.
It’s a matter of pride. Corkonians are known for their deep sense of pride in their home town — we have to step up and show it by keeping our place beautiful and litter-free.
Tomorrow: We hear from Clonakilty Tidy Towns.