Making vast strides with regards to the cleanliness of the town, Athlone has been recognised for its due efforts in this regard, once again achieving second place in the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL ) report, the rankings for which have been released.
Athlone, which only three years previously, loitered in a lowly 34th position on the litter league table, only narrowly missed out on top spot with Kilkenny claiming prime position.
Speaking with immense pride following the publication of the results, local businessman and elected representative, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, commended the word work and toil of those who have contributed to the latest ranking.
“In the past ten years we have made remarkable progress in Athlone. The IBAL report in 2009 adjudicated that Athlone was a ‘litter blackspot’ and we languished close to the bootom of the list of forty towns assessed. Ten years on and we are the envy of 38 other towns across Ireland now that we have been elevated to second place in the country, only to be ‘pipped’ apparently by Kilkenny,” Cllr. O’Rourke remarked.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor praised the cohesive efforts of numerous local organisations who have contributed to achieving such a lofty standing in the IBAL report.
“Our remarkable progress in recent years is not down to a specific occurence, rather a whole range of elements that have come together to help transform Athlone’s fortunes as a clean and welcoming place to live, visit, shop and do business.
“We have a very active Tidy Towns group who encourage and push all of us to up our game at all times. I have pushed a consistent line within the Council over the years on the continuous need to pay more attention to the finer details around the town.
“The Business Champions, established only two years ago has been a great success. This initiative encourages businesses to work hard and improve on how our town core is presented. The many residents groups around the town also play a huge role in keeping Athlone well presented,” the Councillor continued.
The local businessman spoke with regard to the future use of relevant Council resources.
“I have worked hard to encourage and examine how the Council might better deploy our local authority resources around the town. In recent years, new approaches have been adopted and new equipment deployed and all of this is making a difference.
“Our Council outdoor staff do a great job. However, lets not lose sight of the many challenges that still exist despite this second place accreditation. We have many challenges that are proving to be very difficult to tackle and find solutions for, for example dog fouling, dumping and unkempt private buildings around the town. It is very important that we accept this wonderful result and acknowledge all those who play a part in getting us here, however we can’t lose sight of the many challenges that still exist,” Cllr. O’Rourke emphasised.
An Taisce, who carried out litter survey on behalf of IBAL, made reference to Athlone’s strong showing once again on this occasion.
“After years in the doldrums, it is great to see Athlone retaining its runner up spot in the IBAL table. All the approach roads got the top litter grade and this high standard was sustained for almost all of the remaining sites surveyed. For anybody arriving by train, Athlone Train Station (interior and exterior ) was very good with regard to litter and overall presentation. Church Street and the Shopping Centre were also top ranking. The paving at both of these sites creates a very fresh appearance.”