Saturday 25 March 2017

Proposal to to clean up communities

Wide-ranging new powers to help clean up communities in the North could see a ban on the sale of spray paint to children, Environment Minister Edwin Poots has said.

Councils could get new powers to tackle dog fouling, nuisance noise, block off problem alleys and impose fines on law-breakers to help make communities safer and cleaner.

The minister said that if councils adopted the powers currently used by local authorities in England and Wales, it could help tackle problems that affect the quality of life in neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland.

Mr Poots told the Assembly he was keen to test public opinion on his draft Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill.

The minister said he would listen to any proposals from the Environment Committee to have the legislation extended to cover the flying of flags on lampposts and the painting of kerb stones.

"There is little doubt that local environmental quality issues such as litter, abandoned vehicles, dog fouling and fly-posting are major concerns for local residents which impact on the quality of life in our public places and local neighbourhoods," he said.

"Neglect promotes further deterioration and this can lead to anti-social behaviour and higher levels of crime.

"People want to live in neighbourhoods that are clean and safe. Our streets, parks, town squares and open spaces are great assets and places that form the heart of our communities."

He said the new powers would allow councils to deal more effectively with litter, fly-posting, graffiti, abandoned and nuisance vehicles, dogs, noise and other problems.

There was cross-party support for the measures in the Assembly. The consultation runs until April 23 and details are available on the Department of Environment website.

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