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How Bray came top of the heap in clean stakes

A town is celebrating picking itself up from being one of the dirtiest towns in the country to becoming the cleanest.

Bray rocketed to the top spot in the national competition after being voted third worst in the country only one year ago.

The seaside town has undergone a dramatic transformation with a massive community effort to lift the annual Irish Business Against Litter crown.

John Nolan, president of Bray Chamber of Commerce, and a founder and past chairman of the new Bray Litter Taskforce, said coming 53rd out of 55 towns in the contest last year was like being "hit over the head".

But the determined spirit of so many people to make their town a better place in which to live and work had helped bring about the dramatic improvements and boost spirits in the Co Wicklow town, he said.

Criticised

"We're absolutely delighted these combined actions are bringing such great results," he said.

Bray's confirmation as one of the country's cleanest towns comes some six months after it was criticised for alleged antisocial behaviour.

Last June, a judge was criticised for his remarks that visitor numbers to Bray were falling because of disorderly behaviour.

Judge Murrough Connellan said he had anecdotal evidence that many people "would not be seen dead" in Bray because of the antisocial activities by youths on the seafront.

His remarks sparked criticism from business people, politicians, and tourism interests. People visiting the popular seafront promenade also backed Bray as a visitor venue -- although some concerns about late-night antics were acknowledged. However, now is the time for celebrating all that is right with Bray.

Voluntary

Groups such as Bray Coastcare and residents' associations have been implementing voluntary clean-ups. Primary school children had even participated in litter clean-up expeditions and received certificates from the local Lions' Club, he added.

Town council chariman John Ryan said a town rejuvenation committee was set up to brighten up the town centre business area. A Shop Local campaign and the "passionate commitment" of council employees were also vital factors in Bray's dramatic success.

Derelict sites and other eye-sores were also targeted. Competition judges praised the appearance of the Main Street and the "immaculate" seafront promenade.

Seafront caretaker John Sunderland said all the council cleaners were thrilled with the results.

Anne Marie Holland of the Shop Local group said the changes in the town were an example of what any community can achieve when everyone works together.

aokeefe@herald.ie


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