Additional resources to tackle litter pollution after McShane motion
Members of Causeway Coast & Glens Council voted in favour of a motion proposed by Sinn Fein Councillor Cara McShane calling for adequate resources to be provided for the Environmental Services Department to deal with cleansing and tackle the issue of litter pollution, writes Gillian Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter.
Cllr McShane raised the issue as the Environmental Services minutes were brought forward for ratification.
Referring to correspondence received from North Coast World Earth and the fact that members of the Environmental Services Committee had agreed to invite the group to make a presentation during the next committee meeting, Cllr McShane said “we can’t afford to wait”.
She said: “We all represent a largely tourist area and coastal location and we are in unprecedented times this year with the number of people who will be staycationing and visiting the north coast and Causeway Coast and Glens.
“We can’t afford to rest on our laurels and can’t afford to wait until the next council meeting, I am proposing we invest heavily to support our staff and ensure we are adequately resourced.
“I’m not the professional, Mr McPeake, the Director of Environmental Services is, and it’s clear from the correspondence I have had with him that he requires the councillors’ support to adequately finance what is required to keep our streets, our beaches and our environment clean over the next six months.
“People will be visiting the north coast and Causeway Coast and Glens, hopefully in their thousands, that we need to adequately resource so we can protect our environment and keep our area clean and to support our staff.
“We can’t afford not to ensure we are adequately resourced in this year 2021, the year of staycation. We want people to leave Causeway Coast and Glens on a positive high. We need a common sense approach.”
Independent Councillor Angela Mulholland seconded the proposal.
DUP Councillor Adrian McQuillan described Cllr McShane as being “creative” discussing correspondence on North Coast World Earth and then moving into budget issues.
He said: “What are we talking about here, writing a blank cheque? If Mr McPeake needed more budget instead of going to some councillors he should have brought it before Environmental Services. Are we talking about an open ended cheque so Mr McPeake can spend willy nilly, certainly I’ll not be supporting that.”
Independent Councillor Padraig McShane responded to Cllr McQuillan saying; “It’s amazing to hear the DUP talk about writing blank cheques, it’s phenomenal in this year of all years. “We are talking about cleaning up our shoreline, we have a very fluid situation, we only knew we were coming out of lockdown very recently.
“We need to be proactive in maintaining a good reputation along the coastline and cleanliness is next to godliness.”
Mr McPeake responded to Cllr McQuillan’s claims he had contacted councillors saying he had merely replied to their queries.
UUP Councillor Richard Holmes felt the issue needed “proper consideration within the Environmental Services Committee”.
He added: “Cllr Mulholland seconded this obviously we are looking for a budget increase from someone who wanted a zero rates increase. I don’t think this is the place to start talking about budget increases.”
Councillor McShane’s proposal passed with 18 votes for and 17 against.
Speaking after the vote Cllr McShane said: “Given the huge influx of visitors expected in Causeway Coast and Glens and the obvious stretch on resources already with the year of staycations, this proposal was first and foremost about protecting our environment.
“We have all witnessed hundreds of volunteers engage in community clean-ups over the past year and now we need to support that effort as the local government authority, as well as supporting the existing complement of council employees on the ground.
“We are in unprecedented times. People have endured over a year of lockdowns and as restrictions are eased, there is an understandable desire to get outdoors and enjoy the environment. Indeed, with the increased takeaway food option, this has also added to the litter problem in our area.
“My request includes additional bin provision in visitor hot spot areas; increased frequency of the emptying of bins in public spaces and cleansing of facilities, such as public toilets; VMS signage alerting people to keep the environment clean; as well as additional personnel over the next short period, while we all work together to emerge safely from this pandemic.”
As per council procedures, all decisions are subject to the ‘call in’ process.