More powers for Councils on litter and graffiti

BALLYMONEY and Moyle Councils are to have more powers to better tackle growing problems such as litter and graffiti in Northern Ireland.

The matter was discussed by representatives from local authorities and businesses across Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, as well as speakers and guests who gathered in the Lagan Island Centre in Lisburn to attend the third annual conference organised by TIDY Northern Ireland.

The conference was an opportunity to discuss the incoming Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, which contains powers that will allow councils to better tackle growing problems such as litter and graffiti in Northern Ireland.

The Act introduces powers similar to those in England and Wales, and the speakers shared experiences from 6 years of using similar powers.

Minister of the Environment, Alex Attwood opened the conference and said: “Clean and tidy open spaces, town centres and local neighbourhoods right across Northern Ireland are very important in terms of tourism, attracting business and also in terms of the health and well-being of the people of Northern Ireland.

Reducing litter therefore continues to be a major challenge for all of us. I appreciate the efforts already being made by our district councils and organisations such as Tidy NI and many interested groups and individuals in our community to tackle the litter problem, but there are still too many people who simply do not care and do not take that extra small step to put their litter in a bin.”

The Minister added: “District councils will have powers to increase litter fines by 50% to £75 or higher as a result of the new Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2011. We have a battle ahead but I am confident that we will begin to see significant improvements in the coming years.”

Chris Allen, Local Environmental Quality Officer with TIDY Northern Ireland said “All our survey work suggests that our streets have got dirtier, with litter and dog fouling levels at their worst since 2006. The new powers discussed and the experience shared here today will hopefully allow us to turn back the tide of rubbish and reclaim our streets from what is a completely preventable problem”.