County Council statistics relating to illegal dumping and signage in Tramore indicate “an abject neglect of the town and its interests”, according to a former Mayor.
Cllr Joe Conway (Ind) sought the figures at a Town Council meeting and he said there were no surprises when they were produced.
“They just confirmed my view – and that of thousands of people in Tramore – that the resort takes a back seat when it comes to measures to keep the it looking welcoming and well kept”, he commented.
Cllr Conway sought figures that recorded the County Council’s success rate in enforcing powers it has to prosecute illegal dumping and illegal signs in the town area, in the five years from 2004 to 2008.
“Even children in the Junior Primary classes know”, he said, “that the mainstay of Tramore’s economy is tourism, which succeeds or fails largely on its visitor numbers. But our Council does not seem to have twigged it yet…that people will be reluctant to return to a product that does not appeal to the eye or the heart.
“Tramore – one of the loveliest towns in Ireland – is potentially a holiday goldmine for the county and the country, but breaches of environmental legislation need to be prosecuted with full vigour. In these figures, the Council shows that they did not have even one successful prosecution for dumping in the three years from 2006-2008. And, despite dozens of unsightly offenders, they had no success either in relation to illegal signage in the five years 2004-2008”.
He said that for much of that time, two-thirds of the Environmental Wardens were out of commission. “In effect, there was only one person policing the county and of course that person was looking after the west of the county. The personnel detailed to look to Tramore were on long-term sick-leave, with no measures in place to have their workload attended to. It is one thing to have a Public Service embargo in place from central government, but it is altogether something else when you emplace your own embargo on staffing – due to your own inflexibility. With procedures like that, if the county Council was a commercial concern, it would have gone out of business years ago – it would be the “Rinso” of local authorities.
“Essentially and fundamentally, what is at stake here is the packaging and marketing of our tourism product. By extension, that entails employment, families and the prosperity of people in Tramore. Waterford County Council spends countless thousands developing websites about ‘Working in Waterford’ and the like. Can they not catch on to the fact that there is a huge potential in tourism here – ecotourism, heritage tourism, activity tourism, as well as conventional modes – but that these will never prosper to full effect if the area is not appealing to the eye and heart.
“Active and consistent enforcement of dumping and signage legislation would have the area looking better for our visitors who, if they do not get the product they want, will take their custom elsewhere.”