Carrick-On-Suir-Heritage-CentreWaterford City & County Council spent €18,000 on a recent clean-up between Kilmeaden and Carrick-on-Suir.
Local councillors have often highlighted the amount of rubbish along the busy R680 route, in particular at Pouldrew and near Fiddown Bridge.
The local authority undertook a substantial clean-up along the route last month – however the cost of this clean-up came under scrutiny at the May Comeragh District meeting of Waterford City & County Council.
Cllr John O’Leary (FF) noted that the council had spent €18,000 on the clean-up which lasted nine days.
While he said he wasn’t questioning the validity of the clean-up, he pointed out that this was a huge cost to the council and represented a high percentage of money which could be spent in other areas.
“It puts into perspective the importance of community clean-ups and the value of groups such as Tidy Towns,” he said.
He said it was important to support such groups through funding, as without their help he said the council’s bill for clean-ups would “escalate out of all control”.
Cllr Seanie Power (FG) said the huge costs needed to be highlighted as this may make people think twice before littering.
Cllr M J O’Ryan (FF) sought information on how much Waterford City & County Council spends on clean-ups when communities are involved, for example the annual Comeragh Clean-up which takes place on Easter Monday.
Director of Services Fergus Galvin said the council acknowledged the work of voluntary groups.
He said Waterford City & County Council spends in the region of €400-€500 on each community clean-up as opposed to the €18,000 which was spent on the recent clean-up between Kilmeaden and Carrick-on-Suir.
Senior Executive Engineer Eamon Lonergan said Waterford City & County Council could no longer afford to spend such a huge amount of money on this stretch of road.
“We forecasted that the costs would be high and that we couldn’t do such a clean-up more than once a year. But at this cost, we can’t continue to do it all,” he said.
“This €18,000 represents 25 per cent of the general maintenance budget for regional roads in the east area. We could have a kilometre of a local primary road surface dressed and the amount of drainage works we could have done with €18,000 would be very high.”
He said the area had to be treated as a “work environment” and said Waterford City & County Council was bound by health and safety legislation.
He said proper procedures and proper traffic management plans had to be put in place.
“We can’t take any risks,” he said.
“The main costs are associated with traffic management and deploying our local staff to the job of litter picking. Our resources were tied up for nine days with these works which shouldn’t be needed.”
He added: “We can’t continue this practice of spending this kind of money every year”.
Mr Lonergan said motorists who use this route need to change their behaviour.
He also stated that the council would continue to be supportive of community clean-ups.
“We are supportive of all the community groups and work closely with them,” he said.
“The only costs we have with community clean-ups are disposal. The costs are very small for us when communities are involved.”
Cllr O’Ryan suggested signage could be erected stating that the council spent €18,000 on the recent clean-up rather than signs which state ‘No Dumping’.
He described the figure of €18,000 on the Kilmeaden to Carrick-on-Suir road as “phenomenal”.
Cllr Ray Murphy (FF) said it was very unfortunate that the council had to spend this money but commended Waterford City & County Council’s efforts in tackling the issue.
“I believe that, in time, we will see an end to this horrible activity by some motorists,” he said.
Cathaoirleach of the Comeragh District Cllr Brazil (FG) said it was outrageous to have to spend €18,000.
“The public have to be aware of the amount of money the council is spending collecting rubbish around our beautiful countryside,” he said.
He again raised the issue of a ‘name and shame’ policy.
“We have to get the word out there that offenders will be prosecuted,” he said.
“Why can’t we name and shame offenders? Offenders can be named and shamed for everything else so I don’t see why we can’t do it as well.”
Fergus Galvin said Waterford City & County Council was participating in the recently launched roadside litter campaign which involves local authorities from across the South-East.
He said a small amount of people believe it is acceptable to litter on roads and streets.
“They have no shame in disposing of their litter out of their cars and destroying our beauty spots,” he said.
Mr Galvin said there was a need to change this behaviour.
Addressing suggestions that increased CCTV could be used, Mr Galvin said this would involve processing hundreds of hours of footage and highlighted the costs associated with this.
He said CCTV was most effective when it was used “in a targeted way”.
Cllr Brazil noted that the money received from litter fines would help pay a “decent wage” for somebody to go through all of the footage.