Cllr Tom Allen has “never seen Moate look as dirty”, he revealed at last week’s Athlone Area Committee meeting, as he called on Westmeath County Council to take immediate action to clean up the town.
The councillor wanted to know why Moate had not received attention regarding weeds and litter in recent weeks, and was reluctant to accept the reply from director of services Barry Kehoe that the sweeper was rendered inoperable due to fire, that there was a lack of staffing during the holiday period, and that emergecny works had diverted the Council resources.
“It is three months since it was swept. I can’t accept that no one is available to sweep the streets once every three months. There is no excuse. It is making life very difficult for business people,” said Cllr Allen. He also added that a sweeper would not fully solve the problem, and that a team was needed to go in every few months to clean the town’s streets.
Cllr Allen’s calls were supported by fellow Moate councillor Joe Whelan, who drew attention to the amount of weeds growing on footpaths. “We haven’t had our fair share of attention. The members of the Tidy Towns committee do their best, but it is not a big deal to get weeds taken out and footpaths sprayed,” said Cllr Whelan.
Meanwhile Cllr John Dolan expressed concern that with the recent cutbacks to the Council’s payroll, similar problems would soon be raising their heads in other areas.
It was Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran who came up with a possible solution to Moate’s street-cleaning problems, when he suggested revenue could be raised for the village by the introduction of paid parking. “If we are going to clean up Moate we need to start with parking. In Athlone it is paying off and there is now money available to put back into the area. The money is not coming for Moate, and it is not going to come,” he said.
However, Cllr Allen was quick to refute the suggestion, arguing that “paid parking is not going to happen today or tomorrow”, and that he was “sick and tired” of the situation in Moate.
In a statement released this week, the councillor said he remained angered at the Council’s response. “I am well aware that the sweeper is out of action due to fire but this is no reason why the town should have been neglected for over three months, and even when the sweeper is working, it is not able to get into all the nooks and crannies where dirt and papers collect, and the weeds that should have been scuffled and sprayed months ago are left untouched. But after speaking to the Roads Engineer who visited the town during the week, he has assured me that he will take the matter in hand as soon as possible.
“As I indicated to the meeting, it is not fair to the business people of Moate and to the people in general in the town who do their best to keep their own areas clean and looking well at a time when we are trying to encourage business back into Moate after the recent by-pass.”
Cllr Allen emphasised that he had been assured that as soon as the new road opened, money would be made available to the town. “I also await the completion of a Local Area Plan for the town which should bring changes for the better, and let us all be proud of this great town of Moate,” he said.