Councillor Noel French called for more stick and less carrot in litter control in the county. The roadsides of the county are strewn with rubbish which is more visible this time of year with the low vegetation and there seems to be a lot of dog pooh on the streets. There needs to be more people fined for littering. It is only a very small number of people who litter or allow their dogs foul the streets. We need to send them a message – that this is not acceptable. Dog fouling is a huge problem in public places in all the towns of the county. It is both unsightly and unhygienic. In the country roadsides it is mainly drink bottles, cans, fast food wrappings and items thrown from cars as they pass by. This litter is not visible during the summer but during the winter it can be seen on most approach roads and even roads in the middle of the country. I recently walked the Athboy approach road to Trim and there was at lease a piece of litter every metre that I walked. Towns in Meath are really very clean and usually litter is absent but there is always one piece of rubbish on a street somewhere.
Meath County Council does wonderful work with its litter prevention campaign and it has helped to make people more responsible with regard to litter. Meath County Council spent €1,240,000 last year on street-sweeping, a large part of which is litter related and the streets are kept very clean. Add in what the various Tidy Towns group do each week and the figure for controlling litter could easily hit €2 million per annum in this county. This is a huge figure and the council funds could easily be used elsewhere and I am sure Tidy Towns Committees would rather be engaged in enhancement programmes rather than litter picking.
I am glad to see that there was a considerable number of litter fines issued last year but I would like to see more issued and more brought to completion.
I welcome the decision by the Environment Department to initiate a major campaign to highlight the effects of litter.