More than half of litter fines unpaid

 

MORE THAN half of litter fines imposed by local authorities go unpaid, according to anti-litter lobby group Irish Businesses Against Litter (Ibal).

Litter wardens were being "demotivated" and undermined by senior council officials who were writing off fines, Ibal chairman Tom Cavanagh said.

Mr Cavanagh was speaking yesterday at the annual Ibal awards, where Howth, Co Dublin, was named the cleanest town in Ireland.

A lack of support for wardens was a particular problem in small towns, Mr Cavanagh said. "In smaller towns it takes courage to impose a litter fine on a local business. All too often, more senior officials strike off such fines. This explains in part the huge gap between fines imposed and fines actually paid."

In the first six months of last year 14,276 fines were served, of which only 46 per cent were paid.

"The net result is a demotivated warden, whose diligent work has been undermined. Also, the cost of clean-up, which under the Litter Act is the responsibility of the offending business, in fact falls to the local authority." He cited Tallaght as an example of a town where a dramatic rise in enforcement has helped transform the environs.

The top five cleanest towns in 2008, in order of cleanliness, were Howth; Fermoy, Co Cork; Cavan town; Sligo town and Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

The dirtiest town was Cobh, Co Cork, followed by Tullamore, Co Offaly; Bray, Co Wicklow; Roscommon town and Cork city, according to Ibal.

The survey of 55 towns with populations of more than 6,000 were carried out for Ibal by An Taisce.

The report for Howth cited "an excellent main approach road" from Dublin "with wide grass verge on the righthand side.

"A disused site on the left, though unsightly, didn't harbour any litter". It said the main street was in excellent condition.

The report also investigated the site of Howth Primary School, describing it as a Green Flag School "in excellent condition".