Friday 21 July 2017

Local activist rubbishes Balbriggan bin 'excuses'



A THREE year battle to have more bins installed on the beach front at Balbriggan is at an end.

As recently reported in the Fingal Independent but a local Green Party representative and community activist has criticised the council for its handling of the issue.

Since 2009 various groups in Balbriggan have been seeking to have bins installed on the beach front in Balbriggan. According to Zoe Nelson, a committed Tidy Towns volunteer and member of the local Green Party, for three years the council have issued a number of 'excuses' as to why they would not help Balbriggan keep its finest amenity litter free. Many community groups such as Balbriggan Tidy Towns, the Chamber of Commerce, the Balbriggan Police Forum and public representative such as Brendan Ryan TD and various councillors had all followed up on the issue over the years, according to Zoe, but all had encountered ' the same frustrating stance from the council'. Zoe told the Fingal Independent: ' The disgraceful lack of bins had lead to systematic littering of drinks cans, bottles and takeaway wrappers. Families and visitors had nowhere to dispose their rubbish having enjoyed a wholesome picnic on the beach. 'Finally at a Balbriggan Police Forum public meeting on on September 17, the community was informed that the council now had a policy in place that in future Balbriggan would not be issued any new bins in any location in the town. This was the last straw for Zoe Nelson who said she was 'incensed that Fingal Council could be so dismissive of Balbriggan while Skerries and Malahide are privileged to have more than adequate numbers of litter bins along their beach front'. Zoe decided to investigate the legal options open to a citizen with a complaint against the council. She learned about the existence of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 1997 and related system available to all residents and the subsequent appeals system. She also learned that if a satisfactory outcome is not received from the council the issue can be referred to the independent Ombudsman's Office currently Ms. Emily O'Reilly. So on September 25, Zoe submitted her Freedom of Information submission with a request for nine items relating to the policy not to furnish Balbriggan with any new bins into the future. The Council responded with an acknowledgement on October 1 and indicated that they would officially respond according to their procedures by October 26. However, eleven days later she received a letter from the council to state such a policy did not formally exist and much to her delight she received a follow up communication on October 23, 2012 from a senior officer in the Fingal County Council confirming that the local authority would be installing three permanent bins at start, middle and end of the beach walk. The cost of the Freedom of information request was €15 but Zoe said: 'It's the best €15 I have ever spent and I was more than prepared to pay the €75 cost if I needed to take the issue to appeal. A lot of people have plans for their ashes to be scattered on a remote beach somewhere when they pass on however, Zoe commented to the Fingal Independent that her reward at the end of life will be to have her ashes placed in a bin on Balbriggan beach and removed at the end of the day by Fingal County Council. Three new litter bins will be placed along the beach walkway in Balbriggan after Balbriggan Town Council and Fingal County Council came to an agreement on the issue.

Member of Balbriggan Town Council, Cllr Gráinne Maguire (NP) also welcomed the news saying: ' At a recent meeting with Balbriggan Town Council and Fingal County Council's operation department it was agreed that two new litter bins and a third relocated bin from the open space near the Martello tower will be placed along the beach walkway in Balbriggan.'

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