West wakes up to waste

Litter wardens set to tackle rubbish hot spots as West Belfast cleans up its act

The streets of West Belfast have seen a dramatic improvement in their levels of cleanliness in the last year, a Belfast City Council report revealed this week.

The report, which indicates the cleanliness of each area across Belfast, through a street cleanliness index, is an independent survey which takes a random five per cent sample of streets throughout the city, with the score of 70 being regarded as an acceptable standard by the Tidy Britain Group.

Awarded scores of 65, 73 and 73 for the period July to September 2004, west Belfast demonstrated a dramatic increase on its previous scores of 70, 60 and 65 and, over the summer period, maintained a high level of cleanliness that out-scored the average for the city by six points.

Speaking after the publication of the report, Gerard O’Neill, chairperson of the Contract Services Committee, said he was delighted with the scores received in west Belfast but highlighted the issue of public conscience in relation to the issues of littering and graffiti.

"We are slowly but surely beginning to get on top of the issue of cleanliness in our areas, and this is also due to the fact that we have a wide front approach that has seen school groups and community groups get involved with clean-ups," said Gerard.

"I had previously felt that the state of some areas was due to a lack of City Council provision, and that is why we asked for a review of the contract services indexing, but it soon became clear that it is important to have a good quality clean-up service from the council, but also to change people’s attitudes as far as littering and dumping are concerned."

Speaking of the need for a change in attitudes to our environment, Gerard said that he felt there was a need to make the issue of littering an "anti-social" one, and added that "people’s ideas need to be challenged and they need to be made accountable for their actions."

In addition to the littering campaign that is currently underway, Gerard said that a pilot scheme is to be implemented in the next few weeks in all areas of Belfast, including the lower Falls area of west Belfast, that will see a litter warden allocated to the area to help residents deal with ‘hot spots’ in the area in need of immediate attention.

"It is a pilot scheme," said Gearad, "that will go into these areas and highlight issues of ownership of land that needs maintained, graffiti, a whole range of issues, that need to be addressed to get the cleanliness index improved again."

Journalist:: Ciara McGuigan

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