A clean sweep for tidiest town despite cut in funding
THE seaside resort of Bray has been lauded as Ireland's cleanest town despite being unable to increase its litter patrols due to funding cutbacks.
Yesterday the Co Wicklow town was honoured for making its main shopping streets attractive and litter-free.
The Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) group said that Bray beat Cavan as the overall winner of the 2009 league which saw a record number of Irish towns classed as litter-free.
Two urban centres were named and shamed as litter blackspots -- Wicklow town and Limerick city.
An Taisce, which conducts the litter surveys, commented that Bray had done "exceptionally well".
"The overall presentation of the Main Street speaks volumes -- clearly big efforts are being made to encourage people to 'shop local' and a very attractive environment has been provided," it said.
"Paving, bins and planting were all in excellent condition and the area was spotless. The promenade was immaculate, it wasn't just clear of litter but in impeccable condition."
A "zero tolerance" approach to litter, graffiti and weeds is how Bray turned around its image.
Cathaoirleach of Bray Town Council John Ryan said the local authority also put pressure on property owners to clean up derelict sites and buildings.
A three pronged approach involving outdoor staff, businesses on the main street and owners of privately owned sites formed the council's strategy.
Litter patrols were not increased because of funding cutbacks but a litter task force spearheaded efforts to clean up the town.
But the survey found that cities are getting dirtier despite the country becoming cleaner overall. Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick were all criticised for not keeping streets clean.
Speaking at an awards ceremony in Dublin yesterday, IBAL chairman Dr Tom Cavanagh said that cutbacks in local authorities did not mean that litter levels had to increase. New cleaning technologies and effective enforcement could yield tremendous benefit at minimum cost.
"In particular we need to rid ourselves of the idea that enforcement is about fining an individual for dropping a sweet wrapper," he said. "It's more about taking local businesses and other organisations to task for not keeping the areas outside their premises free of litter, areas such as car parks and pavements. If local authorities aren't comfortable with this, maybe privatisation should be considered."
He congratulated the local authorities for helping transform the environment, and said the tourist and food sectors owed a "debt of gratitude" to workers who helped make 39 towns litter free.
The IBAL Anti-Litter League is the largest litter survey conducted in Ireland, with all areas of with a population of over 6,000 covered over the course of the year. Sites are graded by An Taisce according to international standards.