Local Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, has announced funding to provide additional financial support to Westmeath County Council ensuring sufficient provision is made for bins, waste collection and portaloos where necessary as well as any further measures required at key locations ahead of an outdoor summer.
The Westmeath Minister has announced that Westmeath is to benefit to the tune of €70,963 and he said this will be positive news for Westmeath County Council.
“I am delighted to announce this funding ahead of the long weekend when hopefully families and individuals can enjoy all the benefits our outdoors can offer. Our Councils have been working hard to ensure our public spaces can be enjoyed by everybody in a safe and responsible way and this funding will further support these efforts. Councils can use the funding in a flexible manner, and tailor the supports to popular outdoor locations which experience higher volumes of traffic over the summer months.
“Each local authority will receive a minimum of €50,000 which I think is an important feature of the scheme – we are all aware of the pressure in places like Dublin City Council and other urban areas, however we also need the supports in our provincial towns like Athlone as we have seen how busy our public parks and lake amenities have been and we must ensure that the Council are equipped to provide more bins and collect them more often. This money can also be utilised to support pedestrianisation of streets and outdoor street furniture.
“I want to pay tribute to the local authority teams who are already out multiple times each day cleaning our streets and I would urge people to take personal responsibility too – it goes without saying that individual behaviour and personal responsibility are crucial in helping us all to stay safe while enjoying the outdoors this summer.
“I have had intense engagement with both the Gardaí and our Local Authorities in recent weeks and I know Local Authorities have been liaising with businesses and reconfiguring public spaces where necessary. The Government is doing everything in its power to give the both the public and the hospitality sector the best chance of a safe and enjoyable outdoor summer while promoting businesses in both our urban and rural locations. I look forward to the further re-opening in the weeks ahead as we transition out of the COVID 19 pandemic,” Deputy Burke stated.
Return of Tidy Towns competition a boost to communities in Westmeath
Meanwhile, the return of the Supervalu Tidy Towns competition is a major boost to communities within Westmeath, Deputy Burke asserted.
The local Minister of State has confirmed that 29 Tidy Town Groups in Westmeath have now been awarded grants of up to €1,000 under the Tidy Towns Fund announced by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD.
“The return of the Supervalu Tidy Towns competition will be a huge boost to communities across the county, many of whom locally I know have kept up the great work throughout the pandemic to keep their neighbourhoods clean, despite the cancellation of the competition due to Covid.
“From Glasson to Ballinahown, Tubberclair to Rosemount, our communities are looking fantastic as the summer approaches and I am glad to see that these voluntary groups continue to received modest government support.
“A total of 29 Tidy Town groups in Westmeath have now been awarded grants of up to €1,000 under the Tidy Towns Fund announced by my colleague the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD.
“The 2021 competition will take place in the same format as previous years, with the overall winners due to be announced before the end of the year. However special arrangements have been put in place to allow the competition to go ahead safely, with a specific emphasis on electronic entry and remote adjudication of each town’s entry.
“The health and safety of volunteers is a priority and groups should continue to adhere to public health guidelines as they have done so remarkably well since the onset of the pandemic.
“The organisers acknowledge that volunteers have not been able to deliver on all of the plans that they may have had for their towns, and the competition adjudicators will be mindful of this fact when assessing entries.
“To reward the continued efforts of volunteers throughout the pandemic, Minister Humphreys has introduced a new award category aimed at groups that have continued to serve and look after their communities despite the difficulties posed by Covid-19.
“There is also a special new prize for young people, which was committed to under Our Rural Future – the Government’s ambitious new strategy for Rural Ireland.
“I encourage everyone who cares about their community in to get involved in the competition. This year’s closing date is Friday, July 2, with results expected to be announced in Q4 of this year.
“You can check out TidyTowns.ie for all the information you need. Entry forms will be emailed to all registered groups and can also be obtained from the TidyTowns Unit in the Department of Rural and Community Development (Phone: 076 100 6912 ) or by emailing [email protected],” Deputy Burke concluded.